Among victims are two mace-bearers outside CM’s office; Home Minister’s PRO jumped out of window

With the recovery of two more bodies from the debris of the fire- ravaged Mantralaya offices here, the death toll in Thursday’s fire has risen to five.

The deceased are Umesh Potekar, former president of the Baramati Co-operative Bank; Mahesh Gugale, vice-president of the Baramati Merchant Association; another businessman Shivaji Korde; and Tukaram More and Mohan More, mace-bearers outside the Maharashtra Chief Minister’s office.

A relative said Tukaram More’s body was brought to JJ Hospital on Friday afternoon.

While the bodies of the Baramati businessmen were taken home, post-mortem examination on the others was being conducted in the hospital.

Mohan More’s family is still in the dark about how he met with his death. “No one is clear about what exactly happened.

Some say he went down [the staircase] and came back, while others say he went to switch off power,” Maharashtra Navnirman Sena MLA Pravin Darekar, a distant relative, told The Hindu on the phone.

Originally a resident of Raigad district, Mohan More had been working at the Chief Minister’s office for the past 12 years. “He is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter,” Mr. Darekar said.

Among the 16 injured, Mantralaya employees Hemant Khaire and KN Jhagirdar are in the JJ Hospital critical care unit. Doctors said both were haemodynamically stable. “Mr. Khaire is responding to commands. He can open his eyes and raise his hands. He is conscious and has been put on ventilator support,” a hospital official said.

‘I knew it was a risk’

Home Minister R.R. Patil’s public relations officer Kishore Gangurde injured his knee badly, jumping out of a window from the sixth floor to the ledge one floor down. “I jumped to save my life; the flames were so close to my face. I took the risk knowing I would be hurt,” Mr. Gangurde told The Hindu. He plans to seek private treatment after discharge from JJ Hospital. The fire occurred when he was attending a meeting of PR officers at the Deputy Chief Minister’s office.

“We were blissfully sitting in our offices and the next thing I knew, I was climbing down the latrine pipe, clinging on to dear life,” said a frazzled Aniruddha Ashtaputre, PRO to the Chief Minister.

Those hospitalised included the Chief Minister’s other PRO Satish Lalit, as well as PROs from the offices of the Deputy Chief Minister and the Home Minister.