Mumbai fire

Kamala Mills fire kills 14: CM says guilty won’t be spared, Opposition blames Mumbai civic body

Five municipal officials were suspended, and the owners of the restaurants involved were charged with negligence.

Fourteen people were killed and over a dozen injured after a fire broke out at a building at Mumbai’s Kamala Mills compound in Lower Parel locality on Thursday night. The fire, which first broke out at 1 Above restaurant at midnight, spread to other eateries and then to the next building which houses the offices of Times Network – including Times Now, Mirror Now, ET Now and Zoom TV – and TV9 Marathi. The TV channels went off-air for a few hours as their transmission dishes were affected.

Here are the latest updates on the fire:

9.25 pm: Two brothers, Dhairya and Vishwa Lalan, died helping several others escape the fire at the restaurant. “They managed to escape but realised their aunt was stuck upstairs. They went back to save her but none of them survived,” their father told ANI.

Earlier, news reports said most people who died belonged to a group celebrating a birthday party. The 28-year-old woman whose birthday it was also died, Mumbai Mirror reported.

9.03 pm: BMC Councilor Rais Shaikh said the chief minister had made a mockery of the deadly fire by suspending five civic officers. “Everybody knows how the situation is in the Kamala Mills compound,” he told Times Now.

8.25 pm: CCTV footage from Kamala Mills was released on Thursday evening. People are seen rushing out as security personnel guide them, minutes after the fire broke out.

6.45 pm: Mojo’s Bistro, one of the eateries that caught fire in Kamala Mills, denied that there were cylinders at the restaurant, as eyewitnesses had claimed. In a statement, the pub said none of its guests were injured in the blaze.

5.30 pm: The Congress and Nationalist Congress Party have blamed the civic authorities and state government for the fire. Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil has asked that the Central Bureau of Investigation look into corruption in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, PTI reported.

5.10 pm: Mumbai Police are searching for the restaurant owners accused in the case, who are missing, according to News18.

4.03 pm: In its statement, 1 Above has claimed the fire started in an adjoining building, and its “unmanageable nature...resulted in its escalation to our property”. The restaurant has also denied some media reports that claimed that gas cylinders were kept in the restaurant’s premises, which could have caused more casualties.

4 pm: 1 Above, the rooftop restaurant where the fire was said to have broken out, has issued a statement, and denied any non-compliance with fire safety norms. The restaurant says it conducts a quarterly fire safety review and has more than 10 fire extinguishers and a fire exit – “a reason why we were able to evacuate persons speedily”.

3.54 pm: Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis visits the site of the fire to review the situation. He says he has asked the municipal commissioner to conduct a thorough inquiry and submit a report within 15 days, News18 reports. All illegal structures should be “demolished at war footing”, Fadnavis says.

3.20 pm: Five officials of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation have been suspended, ANI reports.

2.32 pm: MP Hema Malini says such incidents take place despite the best efforts of authorities because “population is so much”. She tells ANI: “The city is spreading like anything...some restrictions should be [put in place]. Each city should have certain population limits. After that they [migrants] should not be allowed. Let them go to another city.”

2.12 pm: Mumbai Mayor Vishvanath Mahadeshwar told News18: “I cannot be aware of all that is happening in Mumbai. What do we have the ward officers for?” Earlier, he said an inquiry had been ordered.

1.10 pm: The BMC says it had served three notices to the restaurant 1 Above, where the fire broke out, News18 reports. Two of the three restaurant owners who were booked have been detained by the police, PTI reported.

12.50 pm: BJP Mumbai chief Ashish Shelar says, “We noticed that there was no accessible exit. Investigation needed into the restaurants.” Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant has asked for a judicial inquiry into the fire.

12.25 pm: The fire has been brought up in Parliament. Bharatiya Janata Party MP Kirit Somaiya and Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant are discussing the incident. The BJP has already blamed the Shiv Sena-run BMC for the fire.

12 pm: Dr Harish Pathak from KEM Hospital’s autopsy department says most of the victims died of suffocation. Dr Rajesh Dhere said that if the victims were not confined to a room without any ventilation, they could have been alive. “There were only minor abrasions on their bodies and people died due to asphyxia.”

11.45 am: Rahul Gandhi has offered his condolences. “The fire in Kamala Mills compound has claimed many lives and this is an extreme tragic incident,” Gandhi said. “I stand with the families of those who have died and share their grief. There should be an in-depth enquiry and those responsible for what has happened should be punished.

11.20 am: The BMC will start inspection of all restaurants in Kamala Mills compound, and other nearby mill compounds starting Friday, the Hindustan Times reports. Assistant Commissioner Prashant Sapkale says, “Even the slightest of unauthorised construction will be demolished. BMC is including fire brigade officials in this team, so that inspection is done from fire safety point of view.”

11 am: “Times Network is deeply saddened by the horrific fire tragedy at Mumbai’s Kamala Mills, where the Network’s office is located,” the company says in a statement. “Our deepest condolences and prayers to the families, of those killed and injured in the accident. The magnitude of the fire was huge, disrupting our operations temporarily. All our employees were evacuated safely.”

10.55 am: Though investigators say the cause of the fire was unknown, a short circuit at the restaurant is suspected. “We have started our investigation... It is only after investigation that we will be able to say anything,” senior police officer S Jay Kumar has told NDTV.

10.50 am: Activist Mangesh Kalaskar said he had made several complaints regarding illegal structures in Kamala Mills premises, but the BMC had said that there was nothing wrong, ANI reported.

10.30 am: Mumbai Police say three restaurant owners have been booked because they had not followed safety norms and did not have fire extinguishing equipment, the Hindustan Times reports. Police have registered a case of death due to negligence under section 304 of the Indian Penal Code, and other sections including endangering life of others.

10.02 am: Unidentified sources from the fire department told the Hindustan Times that it is likely that the building did not have a fire exit, and that “fire-fighting systems” were not in place there. A lot of combustible material, like hay on the roofs of restaurants, was also present.

10 am: “Disturbing to know about the loss of lives in unfortunate #KamalaMills fire incident in Mumbai”, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis tweets. “My thoughts are with the families who lost their loved ones and prayers for the speedy recovery of the injured. Directed the BMC Commissioner to conduct an in-depth enquiry.”

9.55 am: KEM Hospital dean Dr Avinash Supe confirms they received 14 bodies. Supe told the Hindustan Times that they received 12 patients with superficial minor burns. All have gone home or to other hospitals, and their condition is stable, he says.

9.20 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also offered his condolences to those affected by the fire.

9.10 am: President Ram Nath Kovind says, “Disturbing news about the fire in Mumbai. Condolences to the bereaved families and wishing the injured an early recovery. Commend the valiant efforts of fire-fighters and those in rescue ops.”

9 am: Though the officials said the cause of the fire was unknown, a short circuit at the restaurant is suspected. “We have started our investigation... It is only after investigation that we will be able to say anything,” senior police officer S Jay Kumar told NDTV.

8.15 am: Fourteen people have died in the fire. Those injured have been taken to KEM hospital and Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General hospital in Sion.

8 am: A case of culpable homicide has been registered against the restaurant where the fire first broke out, ANI reported.

7 am: Brihanmumbai Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta reached the site after visiting the victims in KEM hospital.

5.30 am: Reports say the fire was brought under control by around 5.30 am.

1 am: The fire spreads to Times Network – including Times Now, Mirror Now, ET Now and Zoom TV – and TV9 Marathi. At least eight fire engines and five water tankers were called in to douse the blaze.

12.45 am: A fire breaks out at 1 Above restaurant, and spreads to Mojo’s Bistro and London Taxi Gastropub.

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