16 injured in Mantralaya fire, blaze under control (Night Lead) (With images)June 21st, 2012 - 11:21 pm ICT by IANS
Mumbai, June 21 (IANS) Sixteen people were injured as a major fire swept the Maharashtra Mantralaya or secretariat here Thursday, with officials saying that everyone had been rescued from the building and the blaze was under control.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan Thursday said that the massive fire that gutted most of the top four floors was now under control. He also ordered a probe by the Crime Branch into the incident.
Chavan, who held an emergency meeting in the evening, discussed the situation with other ministers and planned alternative arrangements for ministers to function till the situation normalised at the state government’s administrative headquarters.
“An inquiry has been ordered. Crime Branch will start inquiry into the matter,” Chavan told reporters after the meeting.
“It (the blaze) started on fourth floor from room no 411,” he said.
Relief and Rehabilitation Secretary Pravin Pardeshi had said that 65 people trapped on the fifth and sixth floor had been evacuated by Fire Brigade personnel.
“There are no more people inside. Fire fighters are combing the place again to check if anyone has been trapped inside,” he said.
Of the 16 injured, all were in stable condition barring one, Chavan said.
Chief Secretary J. Banthia had also announced at a press conference in the afternoon that all the employees had been evacuated.
This press conference also attended by some ministers turned stormy after journalists and a section of secretariat employees demanded to know how such an inferno could spread so fast in a high security complex.
Chavan, whose office was gutted, looked sombre as he entered the complex with the building still on fire in the evening. He avoided journalists.
Officials said 16 people had suffered varying injuries, with six officials warded in hospitals.
Tribal Welfare Minister Babanrao Pachpute was among the first to try to fight the massive fire, before realising its extent and escaping.
“I was working in my chamber. Suddenly, I heard an explosion and saw a lot of smoke coming out,” Pachpute, whose office is on the fourth floor, told media persons.
Believing it to be a minor fire, he grabbed a fire extinguisher and attempted to douse it, he said, adding he escaped with another minister after realising the extent of the blaze.
Some employees escaped via pipes and cables outside.
“I climbed down a water pipe to escape the flames,” said a breathless man who said that others made similar attempts to escape by clutching to thick electricity cables and drainage pipes.
There were frightening scenes as employees, including women, in the higher floors frantically tried to get out.
Many crowded balconies or perched on window sills and on ledges outside the windows. All of them were taken down by the Mumbai Fire Service using lift ladders.
A total of 21 fire tenders fought the fire which first broke out on the floor four at 2.15 p.m., as thick dark clouds of smoke billowed from the windows, darkening the Mumbai sky.
Authorities said a strong breeze from the sea helped the fire to spread to higher floors and to other sections of the vast building.
Officials admitted a sea of official documents had been destroyed.
A main control tower atop the building which is linked to all the district headquarters in the state was damaged and rendered non-functional in the blaze, besides furniture and fittings, computers, original files and documents of various departments pertaining to important official decisions.
Earlier, a man who escaped claimed that some 50 people were trapped in the building, spreading panic.
Rescue workers appealed to those trapped to get to the roof for rescue by navy helicopters.
Several Marine Commandos joined the rescue operations.
Throughout the fire, more and more fire engines with their sirens wailing raced to the burning Mantralaya from other parts of the city.
The landmark building, in the heart of South Mumbai, employs some 1,500 men and women. Every day it gets an equal number of visitors.
- Two killed, 16 injured in Mantralaya fire (Intro Night Lead) (With images) - Jun 22, 2012
- Dozens trapped in burning Mantralaya, navy called (Lead) - Jun 21, 2012
- 16 injured as Mantralaya fire rages, all rescued (Second Lead) - Jun 21, 2012
- A day after fire, Mantralaya staffers kept out - Jun 22, 2012
- Mantralaya fire toll rises to five (Second Lead) - Jun 22, 2012
- Mantralaya fire continues second day - Jun 22, 2012
- Mantralaya blaze: Chavan says fire controlled, orders probe (Lead) - Jun 21, 2012
- Chavan takes stock of Mantralaya fire - Jun 22, 2012
- Minister attempted to battle Mantralaya blaze - Jun 21, 2012
- Chavan reviews situation after Mantralaya blaze - Jun 21, 2012
- Mantralaya fire: toll climbs to three (Lead) - Jun 22, 2012
- Pawar lauds rescue operations during Mantralaya fire - Jun 22, 2012
- Mantralaya to be functional in three months, says Bhujbal (Lead) - Jun 23, 2012
- Mantralaya resumes work after four days - Jun 25, 2012
- Two dead in Mantralaya fire - Jun 22, 2012
Tags: administrative headquarters, alternative arrangements, chavan, chief minister, chief secretary, crime branch, fire blaze, fire brigade, fire fighters, high security, inferno, june 21, massive fire, normalised, pravin, secretariat, sixth floor, stable condition, state government, tribal welfare