As at late Sunday, 43 people were reported killed in a devastating fire that ripped through a bag factory in the congested old quarter of the Indian capital New Delhi, with survivors describing the screams of scores of trapped workers many of which were sleeping inside. The fire started at a factory space near Sadar Bazaar, New Delhi’s largest wholesale market for household goods, where handbags were made by workers earning as little as two dollars per day
Many relatives spoke of receiving desperate phone calls from factory workers begging to be freed from the inferno in the dark, poorly lit premises in the commercial hub of Sadar Bazar from around 0500hrs. At least 100 people were sleeping inside the factory, which mainly makes school bags when the fire started.
Firefighters fought the blaze from 100 metres away because it broke out in one of the area’s many alleyways, tangled in electrical wire and too narrow for vehicles to access.
Police and fire officials said at least 58 others were rescued. The flames had been extinguished and they did not expect to find more bodies. The cause of the blaze is not yet known but Delhi’s fire services director told the Press Trust of India news agency that the site had been operating without the required fire safety clearances.