Surat: The heartwrenching Surat fire incident, which claimed 20 lives including 19 teenagers, was triggered by an electrical short circuit in the building, suggest initial investigations. Sixteen other injured students have been admitted to the hospital. The death toll could further go up, claimed sources.
A major fire broke out on Friday afternoon (May 24) in commercial apartment Takshshila Arcade. At least 70 students were attending classes at an illegally run coaching institute at the time. The centre ran coaching classes for Maths and Fashion Designing courses for 11th and 12th standard students. The fire began downstairs due to the short circuit and soon spread up. The coaching centre was run on the top floor of the building and a wooden staircase served as the only entry and exit route. The blaze soon engulfed the wooden staircase, blocking the escape points.
Gut-wrenching videos show students trying to jump off from the fourth floor of the building in an attempt to escape the fire, some of whom fell to their deaths. Many others, trapped in the building, died due to burn injuries and asphyxiation. Most of those who died were in the age group of 14 to 17 years.
More than 24 fire brigades rushed to the spot. Eyewitnesses, however, claim that the fire brigade arrived 30-45 minutes late, reported news agency ANI. At least 22-25 students were rescued from the building, say authorities. As the rescue operations continued, charred bodies were seen being taken out.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, who rushed to Surat, ordered an investigation into the incident and announced special assistance of Rs 4 lakh to the families of the deceased children. "I'm told that due to fire in the staircase, several people jumped from the fourth floor of the building to escape. Have ordered inquiry,” he said. He asked Mukesh Puri, principal secretary of the urban development department to submit a report on the tragedy. Forensic experts are currently trying to find the exact cause of the fire, he added.
Majura MLA Harsh Sanghavi tweeted, “As an parents of two kids and public representative I feel it is BLACK day for me and Surat. I will look into the inquiry personally to fix the responsible people and to care of kids who are badly effected by this fire incident. Prayers”
Sanghavi also shared a list of 16 students who've been admitted to different hospitals for treatment.
Sharing the list of Students who are admitted in different hospitals due to the #SuratFire tragedy.
All needed and possible help is being provided for the earliest recovery. pic.twitter.com/OSfjIYzmKL
— Harsh Sanghavi (@sanghaviharsh) May 24, 2019
Rupani also ordered a fire safety audit of schools, colleges, and coaching centres. While visiting the site of the tragedy, he said the audit would find out if educational establishments in the state have proper equipment and facilities to deal with fire incidents.
“Spoken to Gujarat Chief Minister @VijayRupani & DCM @Nitinbhai_Patel regarding the unfortunate fire at a coaching centre in Surat and assured all help. My prayers are with the family of victims. I have asked director AIIMS New Delhi to be ready with all necessary arrangements. A team of burn & trauma doctors has been constituted. They have been put on alert,” health minister JP Nadda tweeted.
President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and several other leaders expressed grief over the incident.
"The incident happened because of the business of education in Gujarat. No arrangement of fire safety, a corrupt system, caused the tragedy. There should be a judicial enquiry into the matter. Strict action should be taken on fire safety norms. The assistance of Rs 4 lakh is not enough, it should be 10 lakhs,” said Gujarat Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia.