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Serum Institute of India under blaze; Fire put out, no impact on Covishield production

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

Pune: Heavy fire with dense, thick smoke engulfed the Serum Institute of India building in Pune on Thursday afternoon around 2 pm. A quick fire drill successfully controlled the situation that prevented any causality, however, the Maharashtra government has ordered a probe into the blaze that destroyed parts of the institute’s building.

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To tackle the massive fire, a total of 15 fire engines, and ambulances were rushed to the spot after fire was reported at the institute’s biotechnology park, which was inaugurated by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan last year. In order to prevent any mishap the  building was evacuated during the rescue operation.

Trending photos and videos from the scene on social media, showed dark, thick clouds of smoke rising from the building, but there were no casualties or injuries because of the fire.

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As the production of Covishield vaccination against the Covid-19 pandemic are manufactured in by the same institute, concerns were raised over impact of fire on the vaccine production. As per the government there has not been much damage to the area where vaccines are manufactured but the building which was under fire was used for manufacturing Rotavirus and BCG vaccines instead of coronavirus shots.

Responding to the incident, CEO of Serum Institute of India, Adar Poonawalla said, “Thank you everyone for your concern and prayers. So far the most important thing is that there have been no lives lost or major injuries due to fire, despite a few floors being destroyed.”

To investigate the cause of the blaze, authorities are investigating all aspects of the mishap. Though the exact cause of fire is still known, according to preliminary information, fire began on the second floor inside one of the buildings where construction work was going on and preparation for production of BCG vaccine was underway.

As per the Pune Municipal Corporation CFO, “The calls were received around 2.30 pm, the time when the fire was reported. As of now, we do not have details about the nature of fire, extent of the damages caused. Our priority will be to bring the fire under control and avert any damages or casualties.”

According to reports, the Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray was constantly in touch with the Pune Municipal Commissioner over the matter and directed the state machinery to coordinate and ensure that the situation is under control. Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, who also happened to be in Pune, also took stock of the situation.

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