At least 20 people, mostly students were killed and several others injured in a massive fire that broke out at a commercial complex in Surat’s Sarthana neighborhood in Gujarat. Shocking visuals of the accidents have emerged where students can be seen jumping from the terrace, where a coaching center was located, to save their lives.
“Those injured had all jumped off the building to escape the fire and smoke. The institute did not follow fire safety norms and the government has ordered an inquiry into the incident, as well as a fire safety audit of schools, colleges, coaching centers, and commercial buildings in Surat,” said Gujarat health minister Kanu Kanani.
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The Commissioner of Police in Surat, Satish Sharma, told reporters on Saturday that one of the three men named in the police report ran the classes and has been arrested, though no charges have been brought yet.
The fire engulfed the top two floors of the multi-story commercial building called Takshashila complex which houses a private coaching center, officials said. Huge plumes of smoke covered the area. Local residents were seen helping in the rescue operation.
According to witnesses, there must have been around 50 students in the Takshashila Arcade building when it caught fire and have alleged that fire officials were slow to arrive.
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“The fire brigade from the fire station, which is not more than 2 km away, took around 45-50 minutes to reach the complex,” said one of the fathers whose daughter got saved from the fire.
Preliminary investigation has revealed that the cause of the fire was a short circuit in an electronic box inside the building. The staircase was made of wood, therefore, the fire spread rapidly.
Shocked by the incident, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a tweet expressed his condolences to the families of the bereaved and asked the Gujarat government and the local authorities to provide assistance to them.