Mantralaya fire toll rises to five

Last Updated: Fri, Jun 22, 2012 08:00 hrs

Mumbai, June 22 (IANS) The toll in the major fire that swept the Maharashtra Mantralaya or state secretariat here climbed to five with two more bodies recovered from the sixth floor Friday afternoon, an official said.

The bodies of two people, charred beyond recognition, were found outside the Chief Minister's Office on the sixth floor of the Mantralaya, said a city disaster control official.

While two bodies were recovered late Thursday evening, another was found Friday morning from the building, the official said.

The conflagration started around 2.40 p.m. Thursday in room number 411 on the fourth floor and quickly spread, engulfing the three top floors of the six-storeyed Mantralaya building, the landmark in the heart of South Mumbai.

The rescue teams, comprising of personnel drawn from the fire brigade and police, an Indian Navy team and Force One commandoes and 41 fire tenders from Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, and other agencies, managed to evacuate and save 65 people trapped on the upper floors.

The situation is "under control" and the flames have been doused. Now the cooling operations are under way, a fire brigade official said.

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has ordered an inquiry by the Crime Branch to ascertain whether it was an accident, negligence or sabotage.

According to Mantralaya staffers' union leader R.G. Karnik, some 3,000 employees work in the building. It gets an equal number of visitors every day.

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