Kolkata fire: More bodies found from Stephen Court, confusion over toll
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Last Updated: Saturday, March 27, 2010, 22:30
Kolkata: More charred bodies were recovered from the rubble on the fifth floor of Stephen Court Saturday but there was confusion over the toll with officials of different departments giving varying figures.

While the fire brigade said four more bodies were found, taking the toll to 34, Commissioner of Kolkata Police, Gautam Mohan Chakraborty said three bodies were found and three more had been sighted under the debris.

He said that search was on for one person still missing.

"Three bodies have been officially recovered today and three more have been sighted. Efforts are on to extricate the three bodies from under the debris," Chakraborty told PTI.

Chief Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakraborty, without specifying the number said, "Most of the bodies have been recovered except for that of one missing person."

All the bodies were charred beyond recognition and found during clearing of debris at an area from where a stench was emanating, Joint Commissioner of Police (Hq) Jawed Shamim said.

Police sources said the bodies were charred and were immediately removed by civic workers and sent to the hospital for post-mortem examination.

A notice was put up at the state-run SSKM Hospital where most of the bodies were taken as family members held a demonstration over the delay in conducting DNA tests to establish their identity.

According to the notice, 29 bodies had been received of which 16 had been disposed off. Of the 13 remaining, DNA tests had been conducted on four and would be conducted on the remaining nine on Monday.

Hospital superintendent D Bhattacharya said the DNA tests generally took time, adding, "In view of the recovery of more bodies in the last two days, we think dispute may again arise over identification."

He said the families had been asked to submit identity proof and photos of the victims to the Shakespeare Sarani police station.

"The police station will forward the verified identity of missing persons to our hospital. We will then recommend them to the forensic science laboratory for tests, like DNA, to resolve disputes," Bhattacharya said.

Director-General of Kolkata Municipal Corporation's Building department Debasish Kar said clearing of debris from the building would take longer than expected.

"Many portions of the building are in a precarious condition and may crumble any moment. KMC workers are being extra cautious while clearing the debris," he said.

KMC's Municipal Commissioner Arnab Roy said the sanctioned building plan of 150-year-old Stephen Court was missing and could not be traced even today.

"Our staff have been asked to trace the file," he said.

Meanwhile, the chief secretary said the government was planning to form a high-powered enquiry committee to look into all cases of fire and suggest measures to minimise loss of lives and property.

"An announcement will be made shortly," he said.

He said legal action against wrong-doers would minimise chances of fire and there was a need to tighten rules by the police and civic authorities.


First Published: Saturday, March 27, 2010, 22:30

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