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Delhi's deadliest fire in 20 years: How a day of untold misery unfolded

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​Massive fire at Anaj Mandi in Delhi
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​Massive fire at Anaj Mandi in Delhi

At least 43 people were killed when a massive fire ripped through a four-storey building housing illegal manufacturing units in north Delhi's congested Anaj Mandi area on Sunday, in the second deadliest blaze in the national capital.

In pic: Police personnel and onlookers stand near a factory at Rani Jhansi Road where a major fire broke out in New Delhi.

PTI
​People were sleeping inside the factory
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​People were sleeping inside the factory

Almost all the deceased were migrant labourers hailing from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Police and fire department officials said many of the fatalities occurred due to suffocation as the people were sleeping when the fire started at around 5 am on the second floor of the building that did not have fire safety clearance and was packed with combustible material like cardboards.

In pic: Charred goods are seen inside a factory that caught fire in New Delhi.

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​Rescue work
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​Rescue work

It took over 150 firefighters nearly five hours to douse the blaze. As many as 63 people were pulled out of the building.

While 43, including one minor, died, 16 were injured.

Two fire department personnel were hurt while carrying out rescue work, officials said.

In pic: A view of the damage caused by a fire in a factory at Rani Jhansi Road in New Delhi.

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​Owner arrested
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​Owner arrested

Police have arrested the property owner Rehan and his manager Furkan and a case has been registered under sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and 285 (negligent conduct with respect to fire) of the IPC. The case has been transferred to the Crime Branch.

The Delhi government ordered a magisterial probe into the tragedy, the worst fire accident in the national capital since the 1997 Uphaar cinema blaze that claimed 59 lives, and sought a report within seven days.

In pic: Rehan, the owner of the building where a fire broke out, being arrested by Delhi Police.

ANI
​What aggravated the fire
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​What aggravated the fire

Officials said 35 fire tenders were rushed after the blaze was reported at 5.22 am in the Anaj Mandi building which housed manufacturing units for glass items, cardboards, handbags and other goods.

The building was packed with cardboards, plastic wrappings, garments, rexine, plastic toys and packaging items, aggravating the fire and resulting in dense smoke which suffocated the people trapped inside.

In pic: A family member of a victim who was trapped in a fire at a factory in Rani Jhansi Road sobs as he speaks on the phone outside the mortuary of Lok Nayak Hospital, in New Delhi.

PTI
​Narrow lanes of Anaj Mandi
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​Narrow lanes of Anaj Mandi

The narrow lanes of Anaj Mandi area made rescue operations difficult for firefighters, who had to cut window-grills to get access to the building. Some injured were carried to the hospital in auto rickshaws.

A preliminary probe suggested that a short-circuit triggered the blaze. Power discom BYPL said the fire began due to "internal system" trouble.

In pic: Charred remains after a major fire broke out in a factory at Rani Jhansi Road, in New Delhi.

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