At least nine people lost their lives in a massive fire that broke out in an office building in central Kolkata's Strand Road on Monday, March 8 evening. Among the dead are four firemen, a police officer, a Railways officer and a security person.
Five of the nine bodies were located inside a lift on the 12th floor and the victims appeared to have suffocated and burnt to death, reported NDTV.
The fire began at around 6:30 pm on the 13th floor of the New Koilaghat Building next to the Hooghly River on Strand road.
Soon after the fire broke out, the fire minister, urban affairs minister and police officers rushed to the spot and at least 25 fire engines were deployed to douse the blaze.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee claimed no one from the Indian railways visited the fire spot. The officials, however, opposed the CM's allegations saying officials were present at the spot.
Fire Minister Sujit Bose said he was "pained" by the incident and said that an inquiry will be ordered into why the elevator was used.
Expressing grief over the incident, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal ordered a high-level probe to ascertain the origin of the fire.
"Sincere condolences to the families of the 9 brave deceased including the 4 firefighters, 2 Railways personnel and an Assistant Sub Inspector of Police (ASI) who have been fighting the fire at the Eastern Railways Strand road office in Kolkata," the union minister tweeted.
"Railway officials including the GM are at the site and are working in coordination with the State Govt for rescue and relief efforts. We are committed to doing everything possible to ensure the safety of all concerned," he said in another tweet.
PM Narendra Modi also expressed grief over the incident.
"Saddened by the loss of lives due to the fire tragedy in Kolkata. In this hour of sadness, my thoughts are with the bereaved families. May the injured recover at the earliest," the PM Modi tweeted.
PM Modi also approved an ex gratia amount of Rs 2 lakh each from PMNRF for the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for those seriously injured, the PMO announced on Tuesday morning.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee rushed to the spot to take stock of the incident. She also announced financial aid of 10 lakh rupees to the family of the deceased and job for one member of the family.