19 killed in fire at Kolkata market, 'nobody follows norms,' says Mamata

Kolkata fire
A major fire engulfed a market housing a godown-cum-office complex in Kolkata's Sealdah area early today, leaving 19 people dead and several others injured.

Kolkata Joint Commissioner of Police (Headquarters) Javed Shamim said the dead included a woman. Fifteen people have far been rescued from the inferno.

In Pics: Kolkata fire

The fire was detected in the Sealdah building at 3.50 am when the victims were fast asleep, police said. The injured were rushed to state-run NRS and Medical College hospitals.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee visited the spot later in the morning. She said the market building not only had shops but also families who lived there. She said this was a major concern. She suggested that these families be moved to night shelters. ''The government will be strict about safety conditions in buildings like this one,'' Mamata said. ''I am not in favour of destroying livelihoods of people. Only those hazardous buildings will be taken down, which are a threat,'' she said.

Fire Services Minister Javed Khan told PTI that six people were brought out from the burning godown in an unconscious state by the firemen, who were trying to find if others were trapped inside.

He said 26 fire tenders fought the blaze for over three hours to bring the situation under control. Firemen and police personnel cordoned off the area to facilitate fire fighting operations.

The cause of the fire and the extent of damage were under investigation, police said.

Khan, who rushed to the spot and personally supervised fire fighting operations, said there was no fire safety arrangement in the market and blamed the market authorities for the lapse.

"We will take action against the market authorities for not having any fire safety arrangement," the minister said.

He said the entire building housing the market was unauthorised and illegal and had come up during the previous Left Front regime.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today directed the police, fire brigade and the municipal corporation to submit a report on the fire at the Sealdah market here within three days and announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the kin of those dead.

"A compensation of Rs 2 lakh will be paid to the kin of those who have died in the fire and Rs 50,000 to those injured," Banerjee said after visiting the market housing a godown-cum-office complex in the Sealdah area in central Kolkata, where the inferno has already claimed 18 lives and left several others injured.

Banerjee said that the Kolkata Police, Fire Brigade and Kolkata Municipal Corporation have been asked to file a joint report on the fire within three days.

The chief minister urged people, who sleep in markets in the night to be more careful and take precautionary measures like not to light a fire near inflammable materials.

"They should be more careful. Mischief-makers can also cause damage," she said.

"Everything will be investigated to find out the cause of the fire," she said before leaving for the Medical College morgue where the dead bodies were taken..

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