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World ‘There Were No Safety Features’: Outrage Follows New Delhi Fire

05:00  10 december  2019
05:00  10 december  2019 Source:   nytimes.com

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NEW DELHI — The phone calls started before dawn, frantic young men dialing relatives in faraway villages. As a fire engulfed the building where they worked and slept in New Delhi , blocking exits and filling rooms with smoke, the trapped men bid loved ones goodbye through sobs.

New Delhi (AFP). Two fireman who rescued 27 people were hailed as heroes Monday after Delhi 's deadliest fire in decades killed 43, prompting outrage that safety regulations were yet again ignored. The blaze early Sunday ripped through a four-storey building housing small factory units in the

NEW DELHI — The phone calls started before dawn, frantic young men dialing relatives in faraway villages. As a fire engulfed the building where they worked and slept in New Delhi, blocking exits and filling rooms with smoke, the trapped men bid loved ones goodbye through sobs.

a young girl is sleeping on a blanket: Outside a New Delhi mortuary, mourning for a family member who died in the fire.© Saumya Khandelwal for The New York Times Outside a New Delhi mortuary, mourning for a family member who died in the fire.

“There is no escape route, no option at all,” one of the men, Muhammad Musharraf, told a friend on the phone, as others screamed in the background. “I can’t even breathe.”

The blaze that killed at least 43 people and injured dozens more early Sunday in New Delhi was one of the worst on record in the country, and it highlighted chronic problems with slipshod city planning and lax enforcement of fire regulations in the Indian capital.

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The fire swept through the five-story building in the early hours of Sunday, as laborers and factory workers were asleep inside. " There are no proper ways to climb or get down, there is no fire safety , there is nothing," Mohammad Samar said, adding that this was not the first blaze at the site, which

Fire safety is the set of practices intended to reduce the destruction caused by fire . Fire safety measures include those that are intended to prevent ignition of an uncontrolled fire

The four-story residential building was one of several thousand in northern Delhi that had been illegally converted into a factory. Officials said the five or so businesses operating inside were unlicensed.

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The building, in the neighborhood of Anaj Mandi, had no fire safety certification or emergency escape route. Windows were blocked with metal grills, flammable objects covered staircases and one of the building’s two exits was locked when the fire broke out, according to Atul Garg, the chief fire officer in New Delhi.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Relatives of victims outside a mortuary in New Delhi on Monday. Many of those killed were young Muslim men who had come to the city for work.© Sajjad Hussain/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images Relatives of victims outside a mortuary in New Delhi on Monday. Many of those killed were young Muslim men who had come to the city for work.

Many workers slept 10 to 15 in tiny, dimly lit rooms, where they spent their days making paper products, backpacks, plastic toys and clothing. Most were young Muslim men, some of them teenagers, who had come from distant villages in search of jobs that paid just a few dollars a day.

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At least 43 people were killed after a fire swept through a factory in Delhi , police and government officials said. The chief minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal said while visiting the scene of the fire that he had ordered an inquiry into Outrage in India following string of violent rape and murder cases.

Fire Services alleged the fire safety measures were ineffective and not functional in the FICCI building, a part of which was rented out to the Ministry of Environment and Forests which established the Museum in 1972. “The pumps were not working when we needed water.

“There were no safety features,” Mr. Garg said.

The building’s owner, whom officials identified simply as Rehan, had also built at least one additional floor that did not meet minimum safety standards. He has been arrested and charged with crimes of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and “negligent conduct.”

Varsha Joshi, a commissioner for the local municipal corporation, told reporters that officials tried to inspect the building last week, as part of a bigger project closing illegal manufacturing units, but that some of the floors had been locked.

According to city data, at least 2,800 businesses have been found to work from residential buildings without proper paperwork in northern Delhi, though officials said the true figure could easily surpass 10,000.

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“The fire safety systems were there but they were not functioning at the time when we tried to operate them. Had they been working, the fire would have Their condition is said to be stable, officials said. The industry body FICCI said the cause of the fire is being investigated and thanked the Delhi Fire

On Friday night following the attacks, Facebook switched on two lesser-known features : Safety Check and Temporary Profiles. The former was a way for people in Do these new features get switched on when a certain number or threshold is met? Does it relate to how many mentions a disaster is getting?

Fires occur regularly in India’s cramped urban centers. New Delhi and its suburbs, a metropolis of more than 46 million, is full of dilapidated apartments squished into cubbyhole alleys.

Many businesses opt to rent floors in these buildings rather than spend more on factories in industrial areas. Even there, disaster often strikes. Last year, a blaze at a fireworks factory on the outskirts of New Delhi killed at least 17 people.

The fire on Sunday started on the building’s second or third floor around 5 a.m., possibly from a short circuit.

Thirty minutes later, dozens of firefighters were at the scene, but they struggled to reach the entrance: A small lane leading to the building could not accommodate more than one truck, and the path was further blocked by parked motorcycles.

As smoke billowed from the building, workers trapped inside screamed for help through the window grills. Firefighters broke down doors and carried unconscious men on their backs.

The streets, clogged with hundreds of people and convoys carrying politicians, became so chaotic that some victims were transported to hospitals in auto rickshaws. It took firefighters several hours to douse the flames.

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There is a legislation here called the Delhi Fire Safety Act, which has a lot of precautionary provisions incorporated in it. There are no fire safety regulations here, high rise buildings both residential and commercial do not adhere to rules nor do they have fire safety equipments.

"Many factories are being run in residential colonies and most of them are functioning without licences. Such factories do not even have fire extinguishers and avoid mandatory fire safety norms," said the official adding that the death toll would not have gone up if it had adhered to fire safety norms and

“If there was an unlocked exit on the top floor, many more people might have been saved,” said Mohammad Irfan, a resident who lives at the end of the alley.

On Monday, relatives wound through the halls of Lok Nayak Hospital to identify the dead and tend to the injured.

Among them was Alauddin Nadab, who rushed between the burn unit, where his brother was being treated, and the hospital’s mortuary, where the bodies of two cousins were stored.

Early Sunday, a relative from the state of Bihar called Mr. Nadab, who also lives in Anaj Mandi, telling him that his brother and cousins were trapped in the building, where they each earned about $7 a day making hats and leather products.

When Mr. Nadab reached the hospital, doctors told him that his cousins had already died and that his 22-year-old brother had little chance of surviving. Sixty percent of his body was covered in burns.

“This is the life of poor men in this country,” Mr. Nadab said.

Hari Kumar contributed reporting.

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