At least 30 people have died in a factory fire in India’s capital New Delhi, with the toll still expected to rise, police told AFP Sunday.
The blaze broke out in the early hours in the city’s old quarter, whose narrow and congested lanes are lined with many small manufacturing and storage units.
“We… have since rescued at least 50 people,” Sunil Choudhary, New Delhi’s deputy chief fire officer, told AFP.
They were “labourers and factory workers sleeping inside this four- or five-storied building,” he said, adding that the fire had been extinguished but rescue operations were ongoing.
Fire officials said it was very difficult to access the dark, poorly lit premises in the commercial hub of Sadar Bazar.
The building was filled with school bags and packing material, they said, but cautioned they were still unsure about the cause of the fire.
“All the rescued persons were rushed to the nearby local hospitals, which have already confirmed 30 deaths. Some of the others are also in a serious state,” Sadar Bazar’s assistant commissioner of police told AFP.
“Most who’ve died were sleeping when the fire broke out and died due to asphyxiation,” the official added.
Many factories and small manufacturing units in big Indian cities are often located in old, cramped quarters of the cities, where the cost of land is relatively cheaper.
Such units often also serve as sleeping quarters for poor, mostly migrant labourers and workers, who manage to save money by sleeping overnight at their workplaces.
Lack of planning and lax enforcement of building and safety regulations often leads to such deadly accidents.