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Six die in Hyderabad shopping complex fire

Six people have died of asphyxiation after a massive fire broke out in a multi-storeyed commercial complex, in Hyderabad’s Secunderabad, the police said on Friday, adding thatfive firmshave been booked in the case for “failing” to follow fire safety regulations.

The fire broke out on the seventh floor of the complex in Secunderabad on Thursday. (PTI)

According to the police, the fire broke out around 7.15 pm on Thursday on the seventh floor of the eight-storeyed commercial complex “Swapnalok” in Secunderabad due to a suspected electrical short circuit. All 13 people trapped inside the complex were rescued, but six of them later succumbed allegedly due to suffocation and smoke inhalation, an official added.

State Disaster Response and Fire Services director general Y Nagi Reddy, who inspected the spot said that a distress call was received at around 7.20pm on Thursday.

“We rushed nearly 15 fire tenders, including snorkels, to the building to douse the fire. The flames were largely brought under control within two hours… We managed to rescue 13 people. But unfortunately, six of them choked to death due to the smoke. We suspect that a short circuit could be the reason for the fire mishap,” he said.The deceased have been identified as V Shiva (22), Vennela (22), B Sravani (22) – all from Narsampet in Warangal district, Prashant (23) and K Prameela (22) from Mahabubabad and R Triveni (22) from Nelakondapalli in Khammam. While Prashant succumbed in Apollo Hospital, the remaining five were declared dead at Gandhi Hospital, the police said.

Expressing grief over the deaths, Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao announced an ex gratia 5 lakh each to the kin of the deceased.Officials, who took up fire fighting operation said the external staircase in the building, that houses several private offices, garments and electronic shops, was found closed with unused articles dumped there.

“The chief minister assured that the state government would extend all support to the families of the deceased and those injured in the mishap,” an official release from the chief minister’s office said.

The commercial complex, spread over two blocks, has more than 200 shops, commercial establishments and a few government and private establishments. Only a few private offices were open at the time of the incident.

Soon after the distress call, all senior officials of the fire services department, along with the State Disaster Response Force of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) were rushed to the spot. “The heavy rainfall in the area affected the rescue operations, which went on till after midnight,” a GHMC official said.

A few people trapped on the fourth and fifth floors of the building rushed to the balconies and alerted the fire personnel using mobile phone torches. Police deployed a fire snorkel truck to reach and bring them down.

Reddy said many of the offices and shops in the complex had fire safety equipment, but they were not functional. “The fire started on the seventh floor and soon spread to the fifth floor, where the damage is more. There was no damage to the complex as such,” he said.

State animal husbandry minister Talasani Srinivas Yadav, Hyderabad Mayor G Vijayalakshmi also reached the spot late in the night and oversaw the rescue operations.

The Mahankali police registered a case under sections 304 part-II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code, besides Section 9 (b) of Explosive Substances Act, 1984, against the proprietors of Kedia Infotech, Vikas Paper Flexi Packaging, Swapnalok Suryakiran Establishment Association, Q-Net and Vihan Direct Selling Private Ltd, which failed to take fire-safety measures that led to the fire in their offices.

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