Families of labourers who lost their lives in a Delhi factory fire now face a long wait for the dead bodies. The relatives of 29 people who are still missing are wandering from the burnt factory building to the hospital in search of their loved ones. Most of those who died in the horrific tragedy are women workers.
At least 27 people were killed and 12 were injured in the fire at a four-storey commercial building in Delhi’s Mundka on Friday evening.
At least 50 people have been rescued from the building and around 29 are still reported to be missing, police said, adding that the ongoing search operation is likely to be completed in the next few hours. Meanwhile, 11 of the 12 people who were injured have been identified, officials said.
NDTV visited the accident site and the hospital where the injured were taken. An inconsolable Sunita, who lost her daughter in the fire, said she lost her husband at the same hospital a year back and now the daughter is no more.
Sunita has been weeping continuously since morning at Delhi’s Sanjay Gandhi Hospital for her 18-year-old daughter Sonam who worked in the factory.
“Sonam was the eldest, the other three children are younger. She used to do packing work at the factory,” she said.
In the same hospital, two brothers have lost their three daughters who were caught in the fire. They have been waiting for hours for the dead bodies. Their daughters told them at 4 pm that they were trapped in the factory fire.
“They used to work in the factory, one was 23 years old and the other 20 years old. They were collecting money for their wedding,” Rakesh, one of the brothers, told NDTV.
Meanwhile, 27 bodies brought to the hospital have been found so badly burnt that they are beyond recognition. Identification has become an issue. The families of dozens of women like Musarrat and Nisha who reached the hospital are shocked and troubled.
The Civil Defense team of the hospital has the names of 29 missing people, of which 24 are women. Delhi Police says that DNA tests will be done soon.
“27 bodies have come here but the bodies have been badly burnt. Families will first try to identify them with the things they were wearing, then forensic and DNA tests will be done,” Sumit Sharma, DCP, West Delhi, said.
Most of the victims of the accident are poor women who worked in the factory to support their families.
There is sorrow and anger among the people waiting for the dead bodies of loved ones in this hospital. In addition to the grief of losing loved ones, there is anger at the system that despite the frequent loss of lives in such accidents in industrial areas, the government hasn’t yet set up a system where these poor labourers could earn a livelihood without risking their lives.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal visited the site this morning and ordered a magisterial enquiry. He also announced Rs 10 lakh as compensation to the families of the bereaved and stressed that “no one will be spared” in the investigation.
The owners of the company — Harish Goel and Varun Goel — have been arrested, police said. Their father Amarnath Goel was among those who were killed in the fire. The owner of the building, which did not have safety clearance from the fire department, has been identified as Manish Lakra and he is on the run, police said.
Officials have confirmed to NDTV that there were at least 100 people present in the building at the time of the fire — one of the biggest fire tragedies in Delhi in recent times.