Kolkata inferno toll rises to 26

7 years ago | 26-03-2010 | IBNS

Kolkata, Mar 26 : Another charred body has been recovered from the debris of the Stephen Court building on Friday evening, taking the toll in the devastating Park Street fire to 26.

The body was recovered from the fifth floor of the building. It has been sent to state government-run SSKM Hospital for identification.

Meanwhile, the Calcutta High Court on Friday gave permission to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) to break dangerous parts of the building.

On Thursday, a city court remanded two people, arrested in connection with the Stephen Court fire, to 14-day police custody.

Two caretakers of the building-Tarun Bagaria and Ramashankar Singh-were arrested by the Kolkata police for alleged negligence on Wednesday.

The fire brigade has already filed an FIR against the owner of the building, while the police have filed cased against him under various fire laws, including one under Section 304 (for culpable homicide, and is non-bailable).

However, confusion remains over the ownership of the building. According to reports, the building is owned by as private company headed by one Sanjay Bagaria since 1984.

Already 20 bodies have been identified. DNA tests will be conducted on four bodies that are still unidentified and has two claimants each.

The fire that broke out on Tuesday afternoon spread rapidly and flames leapt out as people screamed from the balconies, air conditioning bunks, cornices and tried to survive by jumping down from the British era edifice.

According to reports, an electrical fault inside the lift sparked the fire around 2 pm on fourth floor, which spread swiftly and rigorously to the adjoining floors.

About 300 fire brigade personnel were engaged in fighting the blaze.

Earlier Tuesday, Joint Commissioner of Kolkata Police Jawed Shamim said all people visible had been rescued.

"All people, who were visible, have been rescued. But we don't rule out possibilities of people being trapped inside due to thick smoke," said Shamim.

The firemen reached the spot after half an hour though one of the city's main fire stations is only a stone's throw from the ill-fated building.

The ham-handed rescue effort by the fire department angered the Park Street residents and visitors.

The latest fire fighting and rescue equipment like skylift to evacuate the trapped came late as the ladder was garaged in the city's Behala area, far from the downtown and business hub of Kolkata.

Local people were livid over the delayed rescued operation despite the blaze occurring in one of the most famous Kolkata areas in the heart of the city.

It was sheer horror as people watched helplessly occupants of the building trying to survive and jumping to death with no proper assistance in sight immediately.

The building houses several chic and iconic eateries like Peter Cat , Flury's and one of the most popular Music World stores.