The factory building that collapsed following a fire and a blast on Thursday, leading to a firefighter's death, lacked a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the fire services, an official said. "I cannot comment on if the factory had license to operate or not, but when it comes to a no-objection certificate, the factory lacked it," Delhi Fire Service chief Atul Garg said.
He added that there was no information about fire safety norms as a major part of the building had collapsed.
Police have registered a case under Sections 285 (negligent conduct with respect to fire or combustible matter), 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 304-A (Causing death by negligence) of the Indian Penal Code against the owner of the building at the Paschim Vihar West Police Station.
After a nine-hour-long rescue operation by the Delhi Fire Service and the NDRF, 18 people, including firefighters, were rescued, while one firefighter lost his life, according to the DFS.
According to officials on the spot, fire in the two-storey building started from the basement and engulfed the whole building soon. Seven fire tenders were rushed to the spot.
However at about 9 a.m., a blast took place in the building causing a major portion of the building to collapse and trapping some employees and the firefighters.
Enhanced challenge in fire rescue op as portions of building collapse one after other
Scores of people gathered by the roadside outside a battery manufacturing unit at Peeragarhi on Thursday to take pictures and make videos as fire fighters and disaster management personnel strived to control the damage caused by a massive fire and ensuing explosions in the building.
The main road outside the Okaya batteries' building was packed with a large number of fire tenders and hundreds of firefighters, police personnel and disaster management and medical teams, with sirens blaring amidst the chaos.
Police constantly urged bystanders to vacate the area as fumes emanated from the building that was engulfed by a fire in the wee hours and eventually collapsed, killing one firefighter and injuring 14 of his colleagues apart from three workers.
After the fire was extinguished, three men atop a crane broke the glass on the building's front side as people were feared trapped inside and there was threat of the entire building collapsing due to explosions caused by the batteries and chemicals stored inside.
An eyewitness said several explosions were heard as the blaze gutted down the two-storey building.
As many as 18 people were rescued from the building, including two caretakers and a security guard, a fire official said.
According to the official, the blaze started from the basement and later spread to the entire building. A large portion of the building collapsed after an explosion when firefighters were dousing the blaze.
"A major blast inside the premises, suspected to be due to a compressor blast, occurred around 8 am on Thursday, following which the back portion of the building collapsed. Those who were deeper inside during the dousing process got trapped under the debris," a senior fire official said.
Four persons trapped under the debris were identified as a civilian and fire officials Amit Balyan, Manjeet and Mahavir.
Balyan (28) was declared dead in Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute.
"Around 9 am, the back side of the building collapsed. There were 2 to 4 persons trapped inside the building and were screaming for help. The fire personnel rescued them with the help of a ladder. They were alive," Santosh Kumar, who works in nearby plastic factory, said.
Teams of Delhi Fire Services, District Disaster Management Authority, National Disaster Response Force and emergency medical services CATS rushed to the spot.
Police said they received a call from the factory around 4.15 am and were informed about the fire in Okaya battery godown.
"Before the building collapsed, the police personnel were helping the fire officials to douse the blaze. However, when the blast occurred inside the building, the NDRF took over the rescue work as they are specialised," a senior police officer said.
"After receiving the information, we immediately rushed to the spot. After the blast, the rescue work became very difficult. Three of our persons also got trapped under the debris," Sahil Rathi, a fire pilot, said.