The death toll in Tuesday’s fire in Stephen Court rose to 26 on Friday with the recovery of two decomposed bodies even as the high court allowed civic authorities to dismantle most damaged portions of the heritage building.
The two bodies, located under rubbles in a corner of the fifth floor, were charred beyond recognition. They were sent for autopsy.
City Police Commissioner Gautam Mohan Chakraborty said search was on to locate 10 persons missing since the fire gutted two floors of the seven-storeyed building on upscale Park Street.
The Kolkata Municipal Corporation said that the Calcutta High Court in a modified order on Friday allowed it to dismantle the most damaged portions of the building but with a rider that they do it in presence of residents. The civic body put up a notice board around the building which said along with the removal of debris, demolition of dangerous parts would also be carried out as per the High Court order.
Meanwhile, KMC commissioner Arnab Roy admitted that the sanctioned building plan of Stephen Court was not found in the KMC headquarters. “We are yet to trace the sanctioned building plan of the building,” he said, adding some papers relating to the building were only available in record books.
Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had yesterday said that two floors of the building were illegal and that there existed a nexus between some building department officials and realtors in the city.
KMC sources said the civic body’s lawyer had submitted to the high court that it was extremely dangerous not to dismantle the damaged portions of the building.
Showing photographs of the risky parts of the damaged floors, the KMC lawyer submitted to the court that the civic employees be allowed to resume demolition of the dangerous parts in the interest of everyone.
Residents were allowed to enter the building for half an hour to collect their belongings from those apartments which were not affected by the fire. However, they demanded that they be given more time to collect their valuables.
State-run SSKM hospital’s superintendent D Bhattacharya said samples have been taken for DNA test of four bodies which were disputed due to claims and counter-claims by the relatives.
“DNA tests can be done only if the cells are found live and it may take sometime,” Dr. Bhattacharya told PTI.
Meanwhile, the city’s iconic confectioner Flury’s, which was closed since Tuesday, was shifted temporarily to the Park Hotel across the street.
The State government has announced formation of an inquiry committee to go into the causes of the fire.