Another body found, opposition wants probe into Kolkata fire

March 28th, 2010 - 11:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Pranab Mukherjee Kolkata, March 28 (IANS) As one more body was extricated from the ruins of the Stephen Court Sunday, taking the deaths in the city’s worst fire accident to 34, West Bengal’s opposition parties demanded a probe by the judiciary or the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
“One body was recovered from the debris in the evening. It has been sent to the SSKM hospital,” an officer manning the city police control room told IANS.

Five days after the tragedy, 13 people who were in the iconic building on Park Street when leaping flames engulfed its upper floors, continued to be missing.

The opposition parties jumped in to derive political mileage from the tragedy.

Union Finance Minister and senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee demanded a probe to find if the inferno occurred due to “some negligence”. Describing Tuesday’s blaze as “heart-rending” and “pathetic”, Mukherjee told reporters the probe should establish whether proper safety measures had been taken by the authorities.

“A probe is needed. It should look into why the mishap occurred, whether proper safety measures had been taken,” said Mukherjee, who is also the state Congress president.

“The probe should find out whether it occurred because of some negligence, so that such incidents don’t recur,” he added.

Going a step further, main opposition Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee pressed for a time-bound judicial inquiry under a serving judge.

“And if they cannot do it, then they should seek a CBI probe. And mind you, the CBI probe should be impartial,” she said, after walking in a two-km procession from Birla Planetorium to Stephen Court alongside families of the victims and those missing.

The fire swept through two upper floors of the residence-cum-office block on the bustling Park Street Tuesday afternoon, trapping scores of people.

Six people died Tuesday after jumping from the top floors in a desperate bid to save themselves. Twenty-six other charred bodies have been found till Sunday.

Built by Armenian Stephen Arathoon in 1910, Stephen Court also housed the iconic Flury tea room, the famous eatery Peter Cat, besides Cafe Coffee Day and One Step Up restaurants.

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