Nine people died at the fire that broke out at Carlton Towers, near the Indiranagar Flyover, here on Tuesday evening. These include six men and three women.
Seven of them were brought dead to the Manipal Hospital, situated near the building.
All of them are people who panicked and jumped out of the windows of the seven-storey building. According to hospital sources, 68 people have been hospitalised and as many as 15 of them are critically injured.
Three of those reported injured are Fire and Emergency Services personnel.
The medical director of Manipal Hospital, Dr. Ballal said they heard of the accident at around 5 p.m., following which medical and paramedical staff were dispatched with about 1,000 emergency masks.
The list of the deceased persons, released by the hospital, is as follows:
Savitha, Benzi Shanthakumar, Rajesh Subramaniam, Surabhi Joshi, Purohit Madan, Sunil Iyer, Fayaz Pasha, Akhil Uday and Siddharth Padam.
Their identities were ascertained from the identity cards and name plates, hospital sources said. Bodies of the deceased have been shifted to Victoria and Bowring Hospital for autopsy.
Dr. Ballal also said none of the injured has burns. "Several people in the Intensive Care Units currently require lung support. Most of them who came in suffered from asphyxiation due to thick smoke."
Exit doors locked
Rakesh Ramachandran, part of a fire rescue team said the exit doors on every floor were locked. He rushed to Carlton Towers upon receiving a call from his friend who was trapped in the building. The locked doors made it impossible for people to use the stairs that led to the ground floor, he claimed. Along with seven others from his team, he broke the locks on six such exit doors, thereby enabling many people to use the escape hatch. "We were shocked to see that these doors, that are critical exit points at such times, were kept locked. It took us nearly an hour to reach the fourth and fifth floor where many were trapped."
Mr. Ramachandran also alleged that the fire tenders that arrived first were low on pressure.
The fire broke out around 4 p.m. creating panic among the people trapped inside the building.
Panic grips trapped persons
Noticing smoke coming out of the top storeys of the seven-floor building that also houses a number of popular restaurants and companies, passersby alerted the Fire Department. Trapped persons broke open the glass window panes of the top storey in panic.
Seven fire tenders were pressed into service to extinguish the fire. Initial reports said nine people were rescued including four who complained of breathlessness. Ambulances from the nearby Manipal Hospital rushed the rescued persons to the hospital. Fire Force personnel claimed the fire had been completely doused by 6.15 p.m.
According to the Fire Force personnel, the fire could have broken out from either the canteen or through the air-conditioner’s duct. They said the absence of proper ventilation in the building aggravated the situation adding to the panic. Meanwhile, traffic was disrupted as large crowds of anxious onlookers gathered below the building.
Twitter tells the tale
Employees stuck in the building wrote about the fire and their experience on the micro-blogging site Twitter. Kiran Jonnalagadda, a software employee working at a start-up, Development Enable, on the fifth floor of the building, spoke to The Hindu after being rescued. He said he saw at least four people jump out of the floors in panic. "People were screaming asking us to stay put and not jump out," he said.
"We heard a fire alarm at around 4.30 p.m. and assumed it is a drill. A minute later we heard there was smoke. So we pulled out the plug points and tried to run out through our door. But we couldn’t because of the thick smoke coming from our floor. We had to wait for a long time before the fire brigade came up. By then, the smoke seemed to have cleared and we rushed down the stairs."