The death toll in the fire that broke out at the Eastern Railway office building in Kolkata’s Strand Road on Monday night mounted to nine with two more bodies recovered from the building. Those who were killed included firefighting personnel and one policeman. Union Minister Piyush Goyal expressed his condolences at the tragedy and said a high-level inquiry team comprising of four Principal heads of Railway departments has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the fire.
Taking to Twitter he said, “Sincere condolences to the families of the 9 brave deceased including the 4 firefighters, 2 Railways personnel and an Assistant Sub Inspector of Police (ASI) who have been fighting the fire at the Eastern Railways Strand road office in Kolkata.”
He further added, “Railway officials including the General Manager are at the site and are working in coordination with the State government for rescue and relief efforts. We are committed to doing everything possible to ensure the safety of all concerned,” Piyush Goyal added.
The Minister said that “all possible assistance has been provided by the Railways to the State government during this unfortunate fire accident. A high-level inquiry consisting of four Principal heads of Railway departments has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the fire.”
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee visited the site and announced Rs 10 lakh compensation for the next of kin of the deceased.
“It’s very sad. An ex gratia of Rs 10 lakh each will be given to the kin of the deceased and a government job will be given to one family member,” Banerjee said.
West Bengal Fire and Emergency Services Minister Sujit Bose had earlier said: “Among the seven who died in today’s fire are four firefighters, an assistant police sub-inspector, and two Railway Protection Force officials.”
The chief minister also alleged that no official from the Railways had been on the scene.
“The property belongs to the Railways but unfortunately I found no senior officer from the railway here, and we were not even provided a map of the old multi-storey office building.”
Banerjee also said: “I don’t want to do politics over the tragedy but no one from railways has come here.”
Manoj Joshi, General Manager, Eastern Railway said: “Officers of Railways were present there, efforts were being made for whatever was required. Maybe any map wasn’t made available immediately, staff members of railways were present to guide about the building.”
Joshi said that due to the fire, one important installation of the Passenger Reservation System has been affected and service was suspended.
“Efforts are being made through CRIS to recover it via disaster recovery system that has backup data. We’re hoping it’ll be done by morning,” the official said.
“We will cooperate with the State in any probe they will conduct,” Joshi added.
The fire broke out on the top floor of the 13-storied building here on Monday evening, according to a fire official.
Fire tenders were pressed into service to douse the blaze at the building.
(With ANI inputs)