03/24/2022, 16.08
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Fire kills 11 migrant workers in their sleeping quarters in a Hyderabad timber warehouse

by Nirmala Carvalho

Originally from Bihar, the workers slept overnight at a timber yard where a fire broke out due to a short circuit. The tragedy highlights the living conditions of migrants. For Archbishop Machado, not only borders need security. Sr Fernandes saddened by the fact that the most vulnerable pay the price even in a hi-tech city.

Hyderabad (AsiaNews) – At least 11 migrants from Bihar died in a major fire that broke out overnight at a timber warehouse (godown) in Bhoiguda, a district of the city of Hyderabad (Telangana).

Rescue teams recovered 11 charred bodies while two people were saved out of at least 15 who regularly slept overnight in two rooms in the building. One person is missing.

An electric short circuit appears to have caused the fire. "We suspect they were trapped and inhaled smoke before they were burnt to death,” a senior police officer said.

The bodies were burnt beyond recognition, requiring DNA tests to determine their identity before they can be returned to their families.

This tragic incident has aroused strong emotions, and raised many questions about the living conditions of the thousands of migrants who move from one state to another to find work.

“My heart mourns the tragic deaths of 11 people,” said Archbishop Felix Machado, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI), speaking to AsiaNews.

They were “poor, defenseless and the unfortunate victims of fire in the timber godown. I am sure the Church in Andhra Pradesh will help the bereaved families,” he added.

“I wish to express my closeness to the survivors. I hope that such incidents can be prevented by more security-concerned governments.”

For the prelate, "Security at national borders is certainly necessary, but safety within [the country] is also an indicator of good governance.”

"This is another incident due to callous governance. Human life has become very cheap,” bemoans Sr Dorothy Fernandes, who works with the most vulnerable and marginalised people in Patna, Bihar.

“Hyderabad is a hi-tech city, and people seem to be highly educated, then why is it that [safety] regulations are not in place?” she asks.

“The central government has promised a sum of money to families who lost their main bread winners. Why doesn't the government promise to give them a job instead?”

For the nun, “There are too many cases to believe that the promises will be kept despite all sorts of labour laws in place. This is the greatest injustice to vulnerable people in our society.”

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