Mumbai pub inferno kills 14
Mumbai: A fire that started at a rooftop pub during a party spread rapidly through the building, killing 14 people, including a woman celebrating her 29th birthday and many of her friends, officials said on Friday.
The fire, which also injured 21 people, started after 12.30 am in the "1 Above" pub on the terrace, and spread to Mojo pub on the third floor one level below, said an official of the Mumbai civic body, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.
Most of the victims died of asphyxiation, said Avinash Supe, dean of the KEM hospital where the injured and dead were brought.
Among the dead was Khushbu Bansali who was celebrating her 29th birthday, and ten other women, according to an official list of the victims.
Bansali's grandfather, Babulal Mehta, blamed the "irresponsible" hotel management and the civic authorities.
"The hotel had put up a temporary structure supported by bamboo, with the possibility of catching fire. There was no fire extinguishing facility either. It is the responsibility of the police, and civic authorities act against any violations," he said.
1 Above and Mojo are located in the Trade House Building in Kamala Mills compound in Lower Parel area, a favourite night spot as well as commercial hub housing several offices including national television channels.
"I was on the night shift. We heard people screaming at the pub. Initially, we thought it is due to the party which was underway there," said Sanjay Jadhav, a programme producer of a news channel.
"When I came out of my office, I saw that a fire has broken out on the rooftop pub. The main entrance of our office was blocked due to the flames," he 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.
Dr Sulbha KG Arora, a Mumbai doctor, told a news channel, she was at the 1 Above restaurant.
"There was no time for anyone to reach out because the fire spread so rapidly. The staff members of the restaurant were trying to help the customers as much as possible," she told the channel.
"There was a stampede, and someone pushed me. People were running over me even as the ceiling above me was collapsing in flames," she said separately in a tweet. "Still don't know how I got out alive."
Teams of the fire brigade and police rushed to the spot, and 35 injured people were pulled out from inside the pub and taken to the hospital, a police official said.
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 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.
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 and President Ram Nath Kovind 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 that injured recover quickly," the Prime Minister's Office tweeted.
Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis also expressed grief and said he had directed the BMC commissioner to conduct an inquiry.