Delhi, workers massacred in fire at illegal factory: 43 dead

The fire broke out in the old quarter of the capital, made up of narrow streets and alleys. Relief efforts were hampered, but they saved 58 people. The workers were mostly migrants from Bihar; paid less than 13 euros per month.


New Delhi (AsiaNews / Agencies) - At least 43 people died in the fire of an illegal bag factory in Delhi, in the old part of the city. The fire broke out yesterday morning around 5.20 (local time) on the ground floor of the building and spread rapidly to the three upper floors which also housed the workers' dormitory. The victims are all factory workers who died of asphyxiation and burns.

The news of the fire has upset the Indian capital. This is the worst accident since 1997, when 59 spectators died in flames in a cinema. At the moment the causes are still unknown. Meanwhile, the media reported the arrest of Rehan, the owner of the industry.

The fire broke out in the area of ‚Äč‚ÄčAzad Market, characterized by a tangle of alleys. The maze of narrow streets made rescue operations and the arrival of the fire brigade vehicles difficult.

The latter managed to save 58 people, cutting the grates of the windows and lowering themselves from adjacent buildings. One of them, Rajesh Shukla, nicknamed the "hero of the fire", brought 11 people to safety, being injured in turn.

The factory permits are under scrutiny. The warehouse produced school backpacks. Investigators also investigate the lack of emergency exits. The witnesses of the adjacent buildings tell of having shouted at the trapped people to get on the roof of the factory to save themselves.

Ronak Khan, a 17-year-old who lives in the building next door, remembers having "woken up because of screams and the cries for help. We told them to get on the roof so we could help them." But the workers would found the exits blocked and were stuck in what later turned out to be a death trap.

The families of the victims report that the workers were mostly migrants from Bihar, one of the poorest Indian states, where famine and floods push people to try their luck in the big cities. Some of them were paid just 1,000 rupees, or almost 13 euros, a month.

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