Cases have been filed against the owner of Carlton Towers for negligence that led to a major fire claiming nine lives with fire brigade officials raising the issue of violation of several safety standards.
The owner of the commercial building has been booked under IPC section 338 (Rash and Negligence Act causing grievous injury) and section 304 (a) (causing death due to negligence), a senior police officer heading the inquiry into the fire told PTI.
“We are awaiting reports from various experts who are conducting inspections at the seven-storey building. Experts from Directorate of Electrical Installations, Forensic Science Laboratory, PWD, fire force, power supply company BESCOM, and city civic body BBMP are conducting the inspections,” Assistant Commissioner of Police (Ulsoor Division) G.B. Manjunath said. The building owner has sold space to 94 firms, Mr. Manjunath said, adding “it will take some time to complete the inquiry”.
Forensic Science Laboratory Director B.A. Mohan said a four-member team was examining the building and it would take two days to arrive at some conclusion.
Meanwhile, Deputy Director Fire Services B. Rashid said many safety norms had been flouted in the building, housing software companies and commercial establishments.
Several people had jumped out of the building in panic caused by enveloping smoke following the fire.
“Any high-rise building must have clear entry and exit which was not there in this case. Both entry and exit were blocked,” he said.
The common area on the ground floor which should be kept free was occupied by a restaurant which had also stored LPG cylinders in the space. One of the major lapses was locking of the main and emergency staircases, Mr. Rashid said.
Though the building had fire fighting systems, “none were in working condition. For instance, there was no back-up power, electrical and plumbing ducts which need to cleaned periodically were also blocked,” he said. Vertical corridors from staircase to staircase which need to be free were all barricaded obstructing movement, he said.
“Enough storage of water which is the main pre-requisite for any high rise building was substantially less in this case. Each block of the building which consisted of two sub-blocks should have had overhead water tanks of 20,000 litres each,” Mr. Rashid said.
Forty per cent of occupants of any high rise building need to be trained in basic fire fighting which was “sadly missing here,” he said.
“Above all, over 2,000 litres of diesel stored in the building terrace could have been a time bomb”, he said.
Three of the 21 injured undergoing treatment at the Manipal Hospital were discharged on Thursday, hospital authorities said. Of the 18 patients in hospital, 13 were in the ICU and five of them on ventilator support, they said.