Punjab factory collapse toll 11, CM orders probe

GRIEF AND SHOCK: The five-storeyed building had collapsed on Monday afternoon following a powerful blast triggered by a major fire –

Ludhiana: The death toll in the building collapse of a plastic factory in this Punjab city has risen to 11 and some people are still feared trapped under the debris, Punjab government officials said here.
However, Ludhiana Fire Officer D S Sandhu told media that 15 bodies had been recovered from the debris of the collapsed factory building and two persons had been taken out alive and hospitalised.
The five-storeyed building, located in a congested part of the Industrial area near Cheema Chowk, had collapsed on Monday afternoon following a powerful blast triggered by a major fire in the building earlier.
Around 20-25 people, including officials of the Fire Department and Municipal Corporation, were feared trapped inside the building.
Expressing grief and shock at the tragic incident, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday ordered a detailed inquiry by the Patiala Divisional Commissioner into the incident and announced compensation for the kin of those killed.
“The inquiry will encompass all aspects of the incident and would ascertain violations by the owner of the factory in storing chemicals and going against the law. Any violation of the construction laws would also be identified,” Amarinder Singh told the media after visiting the accident site on Tuesday.
While three bodies were recovered on Monday evening, more bodies were taken out in the night.
The two injured men, identified as Rohit Kumar and Sunil Kumar, are undergoing treatment at CMC Hospital Ludhiana.
The rescue operation continued on Tuesday.
Teams of the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF), Army, Punjab Police, the Fire Department and a local NGO were engaged in rescue work.
The Chief Minister took stock of the situation and directed the district authorities to speed up the rescue and relief efforts.
Consoling the families of the victims, he said no stone would be left unturned to try and find those still believed to be buried under the debris.
The families of four firemen and one sanitary inspector killed in the tragedy will be given Rs 10 lakh ex-gratia, with the state government and the Municipal Corporation contributing 50 per cent each, along with one job per family on compassionate grounds, a government spokesperson said.
The five civilians who lost their lives in the incident will be provided Rs 2 lakh each as ex-gratia, the spokesperson added.
The factory owner, Inderjit Singh Gola, has been booked for negligence. He is said to be on the run.
The Chief Minister made it clear that strict action would be initiated against any officer found guilty of dereliction of duty or lapse of any kind, leading to the accident.
Meanwhile, an official spokesperson has identified 10 of the 11 persons reportedly killed in the tragedy as Sarmohan Gill (Sub Fire Officer), Puran Singh (Leading Fireman), Rajan Singh (Fireman), Vishal Kumar, Inderpal Singh Pal (Taxi stand owner), Laxman Dravid (Chief Sanitary Inspector posted at Pathankot), Sandeep Singh (factory worker), Baldev Raj (factory worker), Amarjot, and Ghanaya.
Chemicals and plastic material stored in Amarson Polymers stoked the fire, officials said.
At least 15 fire tenders were rushed to the spot which finally brought the fire under control after nearly six hours on Monday.
People living nearby were asked to vacate the area as a precautionary measure.
Officials said that a few other buildings and houses in the vicinity of the collapsed building were also damaged. The factory was located in an industrial-cum-residential area of Ludhiana. — IANS