Mumbai, Dec 29: A massive fire at a pub hosting a birthday party killed 14 people, most of them women, and injured 21, shortly after midnight in a posh Mumbai locality, police said on Friday.
Most of the victims, who included 11 women, died of asphyxiation in the tragedy in Lower Parel area, police said. Some reports said among those dead was the woman who was celebrating her birthday but this could not be independently confirmed.
The fire broke out after 12.30am at One Above Pub, located on the third floor of the four-storey Trade House Building in Kamala Mills compound on Senapati Bapat Marg, a commercial hub of the city, a police official said.
The massive blaze engulfed the entire building in about 30 minutes and took several hours to be put out. The cause of the fire is not known.
Mumbai’s civic body Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation credited the Press Trust of India for alerting authorities about the blaze. “The disaster management control room was alerted about the fire,” said a report issued by the BMC disaster management cell on Friday.
A senior journalist was tipped off about the fire by a source shortly after midnight and contacted the control room to get details, unaware that he was the first bearer of the tragic news. Teams of fire brigade and police rushed to the spot and 35 injured people were pulled out from inside the pub and taken to hospital, the official said.
“During treatment, 14 people, including 11 women, were declared dead. Most of the victims died of suffocation,” he said, adding that 21 others sustained serious burn injuries.
Police have booked Hratesh Sanghvi, Jigar Sanghvi and Abhijeet Manka of C Grade Hospitality, which manages the pub, along with others, under various charges including culpable homicide not amounting to murder. They are also charged with IPC sections 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others). Two of those booked have been detained.
The Kamala Mills Compound in central Mumbai’s Lower Parel is a refurbished industrial compound, housing swanky restaurants and other commercial establishments. Several media outlets, including TV news channels Times Now, ET Now and TV9 Marathi, have offices in the complex.
There have been allegations that civic authorities have turned a blind eye to construction irregularities and violation of fire safety norms in the compound.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed anguish over the tragedy. “Anguished by the fire in Mumbai. My thoughts are with the bereaved families in this hour of grief. I pray that those injured recover quickly,” the Prime Minister’s Office tweeted.
Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis also expressed his grief over the fire in the central Mumbai building. “Disturbing to know about the loss of lives in unfortunate Kamala Mills fire incident in Mumbai. My thoughts are with the families who lost their loved ones and prayers for the speedy recovery of the injured. Directed the BMC Commissioner to conduct an in-depth enquiry,” Fadnavis said in a tweet.
In another tweet, the chief minister said that he has directed Brihanmumbai Municipal Commissioner (Ajoy Mehta) “to take strong action against erring officials immediately”.
BJP MP Kirit Somaiya tweeted, “Fire at Pub at Kamala Mill Compound Mumbai I had urged CM & BMC Commissioner to Order Special Fire Audit of all such Pub, Hooka Parlours & Farsan Mart/Workshops of Mumbai. 2 week back similar type of fire at Farsan Workshop Sakinaka 1 dozen people had died.” “Understood that several such establishments at Kamla mills compound are illegal, part of which was regularised lately, the place where fire took place was illegal,” he added.