Pune: At least 5 people have died on in the fire that took place at Pune’s Serum Institute of India. A major fire broke on Thursday at the Manjri plant of Serum Institute of India (SII), Pune. Several fire tenders were rushed to the spot and emergency services were pressed in action. However, reports now confirm that five people have lost their lives in the fire today. Adar Poonawala, CEO Serum Institute has expressed grief over the loss of lives. Poonawala, however, confirmed that the work related with Covishield manufacturing won’t be affected. Also Read - Two Minor Siblings Killed by Mentally Unstable Man After He Set Them on Fire
“We’ve just received some distressing updates; upon further investigation we’ve learnt that there has unfortunately been some loss of life. We’re deeply saddened and offer our deepest condolences to family members of the departed,” Poonawalla said in a tweet. Also Read - Pune Extends Night Curfew Till March 14, Schools And Colleges to Remain Shut. Here's What's Allowed, What's Not
SII Pune is manufacturing Coronavirus vaccine Covishield. According to SII executive director Dr Suresh Jadhav, the fire was reported at the facility where BCG vaccine-related work was on. The covishield manufacturing unit is five minutes away from the place where fire took place. Also Read - 1 Dead After Fire Breaks Out at Factory in Delhi's Pratap Nagar
Giving further details, Pune Mayor Murlidhar Mohol said that four people were evacuated from the building but when it came under control, five bodies were found by the jawans.
He also added that the five people who died, were perhaps the workers at the under-construction building. “The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained but it is being speculated that welding, that was going on at the building, caused the fire,” Mohol added.
The Manjari facility is where the Covishield vaccine used in the nationwide inoculation drive against the pandemic is made. The building where the fire broke out is part of the under-construction site of the Serum facility and is one km from the Covishield manufacturing unit, sources said.
“I would like to reassure all governments & the public that there would be no loss of #COVISHIELD production due to multiple production buildings that I had kept in reserve to deal with such contingencies at @SerumInstIndia,” Poonawalla tweeted.
Moreover, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said the state government has ordered a probe into the blaze.
The fire, which broke out at 2.45 PM on the fourth and fifth floors of the SEZ 3 building in the Serum Institute premises, was brought under control in two hours, police said.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Namrata Patil told PTI that nine people were evacuated from the spot after the fire broke out. Viral visuals from the site showed smoke billowing out from the Serum Institute facility.
Chief Fire Officer Prashant Ranpise said cooling work has commenced at the spot. Fifteen water tankers were pressed into action and the fire was brought under control around 4.30 pm, he said.
“Furniture, wiring, cabins were gutted. No major machinery or instruments were stored on the floors where the fire broke out,” he said.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray told reporters that as per initial information, an electrical fault caused the fire.
“As per initial information, the fire did not erupt at the unit where the COVID-19 vaccine is being produced, but in the unit where the BCG vaccine is produced,” Thackeray said.