At least 21 people were dead after a major fire broke out on the top floor of a three-storey building of Taxshila Arcade in Gujarat’s Surat on Friday afternoon.
According to the sources, the fire broke out in a tuition class on the second floor of the commercial complex next to Nature Park and Zoo, run by Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) in Sarthana area.
Most of the students said to be between the ages of 14 and 17.
Sources said people trapped inside the building began to jump out from the covered terrace on not finding a way to escape the fire. Videos of the tragedy that made rounds showed smoke billowing from the building as people desperately hung on to the window panes outside the building. Some, not finding anything to cling to, fell on the ground.
Huge plumes of smoke covered the area. Local residents were helping in the rescue operation.
It was not immediately clear what caused the fire. The owners of the building are on the run, police officials said. It did not have a functioning fire escape.
A fire official said 20 fire engines sent in to tackle the fire. “Students on fourth and third floor jumped off to the ground to save themselves from fire and smoke. Many has rescued and sent to hospital,” the fire official told news agency PTI.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the incident.
An investigation ordered into the incident and the state government has promised to give Rs. 4 lakh to each of the families of those killed.
Fire safety in India has neglected leading to devastating tragedies with alarming frequency.
More than 18,000 people died in fires in 2015 alone, according to government data, the last year for which figures are available, one of the largest causes of accidental death in the country.