At least 20 people were killed and several others injured in a fire at a coaching centre in Sarthana area of Surat in Gujarat. The coaching center was located on the third and fourth floors of the Takshashila Complex.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said at least 19 students have died in the fire, but Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel has put the figure at 20. “As per the information received, 20 students have died in the fire. Many others were injured and shifted to a hospital,” Nitin Patel said.
Students, mostly teenagers, died “either due to suffocation or jumping off from the complex”, the deputy CM said. “We have ordered a detailed inquiry into the incident. We will not spare those found guilty,” Nitin Patel said.
Horrifying visuals of the fire showed kids falling off the windows.
An initial investigation suggests the fire was caused by a short-circuit. According to a fire official, flames started from the ground floor and reached the top floor, forcing some students to take shelter on the terrace which was covered.
“Lot of smoke accumulated on the top floor where there were AC compressors and tyres which too caught fire. There was no escape route available for the students who got trapped on the top floors. The fire was doused in one hour. There were no safety equipment installed in the building,” a fire official told the media.
Coaching classes at the center were run in a shade built on the top floor of the building, Gujarat Deputy CM Nitin Patel said, adding that they “will check if the construction was illegal”.
The fire official said that 19 fire tenders and two hydraulic platforms were pressed into service to douse the fire. It took an hour to contain the blaze.
Eye-witnesses claimed that there were around 50 students in the complex when the fire started.
“Around 10 students on fourth and third floor jumped off to the ground to save themselves from fire and smoke,” said a fire official.
Locals helped in the rescue operation to save the stranded students and other occupants of the building.