Mumbai: Two people, including a child, were burnt to death and 11 others, among them three women, suffered injuries in a fire that caused several gas cylinders to explode in a northwest Mumbai slum on Monday, officials said.
An official of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s disaster control cell said the fire erupted around 12.30 p.m. in the sprawling and densely populated Damunagar slum in Kandivali East.
Within minutes, several gas cylinders in a nearby warehouse also caught fire and started exploding.
Witnesses said there were at least half a dozen deafening explosions and a thick smoke, billowing from the flames, was visible from several kilometres away.
Additional Commissioner of Police (North) Fatehsingh Patil confirmed that a burnt body was recovered while several other unidentified victims were rushed to the BMC’s Ambedkar Hospital.
Prahlad Gharat, 45, was killed while the identity of the child who perished in the blaze is yet to be established.
A disaster control Cell official said around 2,000 hutments were reduced to ashes and the impact of the exploding cylinders led to a power failure in the entire locality that comprises posh skyscrapers of Thakur village.
Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta visited the site of the huge tragedy that brought over 6,000 people on the streets, and ordered immediately relief and rehab measures, including housing them in temporary shelters, schools, camps and grounds.
City Congress president Sanjay Nirupam at the site claimed over 200 cylinders exploded, reducing the entire slum complex to ashes. He also arranged for distributing blankets, clothes, food packets and drinking water to the displaced people.
NGO Samast Mahajan spokesperson Girish Shah said the organisation would make arrangements to provide relief, food and other aid material to the people hit by the fire, while students of nearby Thakur College helped in the rescue efforts.
Residents, who lost everything, including important documents, valuables and other things in the blaze, alleged the civic authorities were not rushing help quickly enough. As the winter chill has set in, children and senior citizens were the worst hit.
They demanded the BMC and state government to provide help, water, food, medicines and domestic supplies besides making arrangements for alternative accommodation on a war-footing.
Over 15 fire tenders, 10 water tankers and five ambulances were pressed into service in relief operations and the blaze was brought under control after nearly four hours.
The cause of the massive blaze that engulfed an area spread over over 50,000 square metres, was being investigated.