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6 killed, 20 injured in Kolkata’s Park Street fire
KOLKATA, MAR 23 (IANS)
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Published on 24 Mar. 2010 12:17 AM IST
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At least six people were killed and scores trapped when a raging fire broke out in a British-era building in the heart of Kolkata’s bustling Park Street Tuesday. The blaze in the top floors of the eight-storey commercial and apartment block could be brought under control only after five hours of struggle.
“Six people have died. Around 20 are injured. Eight of them are admitted to hospital. The fire is under control but not fully extinguished,” Joint Commissioner of police (headquarters) Javed Shamim told IANS.
The fire swept through a large a portion of the top two floors of the Stephen Court building, which houses mainly call centres and residences. The Stephen Court houses the popular Peter Cat restaurant and is close to the iconic Flurys tea room, police said.
This was the third major fire in Kolkata in two years and the second in a metropolitan city. A fire in a multi-storeyed office complex in Bangalore killed nine people Feb 23.
Forty fire tenders battled to contain the blaze, which started in an elevator shaft of the building on the city’s most well-known street that has famous restaurants, fashionable stores and major offices.
Vivek Upadhyay, a call centre employee in the complex, and Vikash Aggarwal died of injuries sustained when they jumped down from the building. While Upadhyay died at SSKM Hospital, Aggarwal passed away at the Calcutta National Medical College.
“At least 18 injured people were removed from the building and one of them is in critical condition. They have been admitted to SSKM Hospital,” Joint Commissioner of Police Jawed Shamim told IANS earlier.
“No one is now trapped inside,” city police chief Goutam Chakraborty told reporters after surveying the spot.
Soon after the fire began, there was a huge traffic snarl as crowds collected on the arterial road, making it difficult for the fire tenders to access the building. The fire tenders with their hydraulic lifts finally rescued many people at least two hours after the fire broke out.
There were dramatic scenes as people tried desperately to clamber down the colonial building on ropes. People were seen calling for help with their mobile phones while perched precariously on the terrace or on ledges. Some were waving for help from grilled windows.
“I saw two desperate people, unable to bear the searing heat and fumes, cling on to the edge of the terrace and then jump to their death from the sixth floor in a desperate bid to stay alive,” said Rupa Ghosh, the shadow of death still darkening her face.
An employee of the OTS transport company which has its office on the second floor of the Stephen Court building, Ghosh herself jumped to the ground when she thought the fire would engulf her office as well.

 
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