At least five workers were killed at a Serum Institute of India (SII) facility in Manjri Pune after a fire broke out on Thursday, January 21.
The fire broke out at 2:45 pm at an under-construction building, adjacent to the plant where the vaccine is being manufactured. The building is located at the firm's Terminal 1 gate.
Tenders and a team of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were rushed to the spot to douse the fire. Four people were evacuated from the site.
It took around three hours for fire personnel to bring the fire under control. The cause of the fire is still not known.
Pune district collector Rajesh Deshmukh confirmed the fatalities, three hours after the fire engulfed the building. City Mayor Murlidhar Mohol said the cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained. However, it is being speculated that the welding ongoing at the building caused the fire, Hindustan Times reported.
Officials of the company informed that the manufacturing unit of their vaccine 'Covishield' had not been affected by the fire. Chief executive Officer Adar Poonawalla expressed grief over the incident.
The Serum Institute of India is manufacturing the Covishield vaccine developed by the Oxford University and AstraZeneca. Covishield is one of the two Covid-19 vaccines that have been granted emergency use approval in India and is being administered to healthcare workers.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed anguish over the fire incident and said, "In this sad hour, my thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives. I pray that those injured recover at the earliest."
Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray is scheduled to visit the facility tomorrow to review the situation. The government has already ordered an investigation into the incident.