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Fire at Mantralaya doused, cooling operations to continue

Source : PTI
Last Updated: Fri, Jun 22, 2012 05:25 hrs
Fire breaks out in Mantralaya <br>

Mumbai: Over 12 hours after it broke out, the massive fire that swept through the top floors of the Maharashtra government secretariat killing three persons was doused early today.

However, fire brigade officials said the cooling operation will continue for the next two days.

"The fire has been doused, but the cooling operation will continue for the next two days," fire brigade officer S V Joshi said.

Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar visited Mantralaya this morning and reviewed the work in progress to cool off the seven-storeyed building.

Pawar told reporters that the Chief Minister's office on the sixth floor has remained comparatively unscathed by the fire which had gutted nearby offices.

A large number of files were also destroyed, including that of Urban Development department which is embroiled in the Adarsh housing scam involving several top politicians, bureaucrats and ex-army officials, raising questions on whether any sabotage was the cause.

One more body was recovered by fire brigade officials from the sixth floor of the building, taking the toll to three.

"The charred remains of a victim were found outside the office of Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on the sixth floor of Mantralaya at around 8 AM," fire brigade sources said.

Sixteen others sustained injuries in the raging fire in the secretariat.The injured persons have been admitted to various hospitals, including 11 at JJ and St George, 3 at G T and 2 at Nair hospital.

Some of them have suffered suffocation, while others have sustained minor injuries on hands and legs, J J Hospital dean Dr T P Lahane said.

To review the situation in the aftermath of the fire, a special meeting of Maharashtra Cabinet will be held today.

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, who has announced a crime branch probe into the incident, will chair the meeting to be held at Vidhan Bhawan.

Fifth and sixth floors damaged in the fire would be shifted to Vidhan Bhawan and Sahyadri Guest house, Chavan said.

There were around 2,500 Mantralaya staffers in the building, apart from around 2,000 visitors when the fire broke out, a Mantralaya official said.

Around 8,000 employees work in the Mantralaya building on a normal working day.

Asked if there were proper fire fighting equipment in place at Mantralaya, Joshi said such equipment was in place but he could not say whether they were in a working condition or not.

"The fire fighting equipment was there but was of no use to us," he said.

On reports that important documents have been destroyed in the fire, Employment Guarantee Scheme Minister Nitin Raut said over three lakh files in Mantralaya have already been scanned and they are on the main server.

Meanwhile, there are reports that an urn which once contained the ashes of Jawaharlal Nehru and was kept in the sixth floor of Mantralaya, has been damaged in the fire.




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