The Centre on Tuesday approved an ex-gratia of ₹2 lakh each from Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund for the next of kin of those who have lost their lives due to the tragic fire in Kolkata, Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said. A compensation of ₹50,000 will be given to those seriously injured, PMO said hours after a massive fire engulfed a high-rise building of the Eastern Railway at Kolkata’s Strand Road.
“Saddened by the loss of lives due to the fire tragedy in Kolkata. In this hour of sadness, my thoughts are with the bereaved families. May the injured recover at the earliest,” PM Modi said in a tweet on Tuesday morning.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee visited the site and announced Rs 10 lakh compensation for the next of kin of the deceased. “It’s very sad. An ex gratia of Rs 10 lakh each will be given to the kin of the deceased and a government job will be given to one family member,” Banerjee said.
Nine people were killed in a huge fire that broke out in an office building in central Kolkata’s Strand Road on Monday evening. Among the dead are four firemen, a police officer, a Railways officer and a security person, officials said.
Five of the nine bodies were found in an elevator on the 12th floor. The victims appeared to have suffocated and burnt to death inside the lift.
Railways Minister Piyush Goyal expressed his condolences at the tragedy and said a high-level inquiry team comprising of four Principal heads of Railway departments has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the fire.
Taking to Twitter he said, “Sincere condolences to the families of the 9 brave deceased including the 4 firefighters, 2 Railways personnel and an Assistant Sub Inspector of Police (ASI) who have been fighting the fire at the Eastern Railways Strand road office in Kolkata.”
He further added, ” Railway officials including the General Manager are at the site and are working in coordination with the State government for rescue and relief efforts. We are committed to doing everything possible to ensure the safety of all concerned,”
The Minister said that “all possible assistance has been provided by the Railways to the State government during this unfortunate fire accident. A high-level inquiry consisting of four Principal heads of Railway departments has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the fire.”
Earlier in the evening, immediately after the fire broke out at 6.30 pm, the fire minister, the urban affairs minister and police officers rushed to the spot. At least 25 fire engines were deployed to put out the blaze that began on the 13th floor. “Seven people are dead. The police commissioner says two more may be missing.
“The cause of the fire is as yet unknown but thankfully all our employees have been evacuated and no one seems to be trapped inside. We will be able to ascertain the extent of damage only after we are given access to our office,” said a senior ER official.
Arvind Agarwal, the owner of a leading CA firm in the city, first saw the fire around 6.30pm from his office on Kiran Shankar Roy Road. He immediately went to the terrace to see how severe the fire was. “There was also a traffic jam and we went to the terrace. The fire was spreading fast and we were worried about nearby buildings,” he added.