Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday expressed condolences over the death of 5 workers in fire at Pune’s Serum Institute. PM Modi took to Twitter and wrote, “Anguished by the loss of lives due to an unfortunate fire at the Serum Institute. In this sad hour, my thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives. I pray that those injured recover at the earliest.” Also Read - TMC Complains To Election Commission Over PM's Photo On Vaccine Documents, Calls It Violation of Poll Code
On Thursday, a major fire broke in a five-storeyed under-construction building in the Serum Institute of India’s Manjari premises in Pune claiming lives of 5 workers. All the deceased were contract workers, whose bodies were recovered by fire brigade personnel from the top floor, police said, adding nine persons were evacuated from the spot. Also Read - From PM Modi to Amit Shah: Top Leaders Who Received Jabs On Day 1 of Stage II COVID Vaccine Drive
Covishield vaccine production won’t be hit due to the fire, Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla said. Manjari facility is where the Covishield vaccine used in the nationwide inoculation drive against the pandemic is made. The building where fire broke out is one km from the Covishield vaccine 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.
“We have just received some distressing updates; upon further investigation we have learnt that there has unfortunately been some loss of life at the incident. We are deeply saddened and offer our deepest condolences to the family members of the departed,” Poonawalla added.
Mayor Murlidhar Mohol said fire officials recovered the five bodies during the cooling operation. Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said the state government has ordered a probe into the fire.
The fire, which broke out at 2.45 pm on the fourth and fifth floors of the building, was brought under control in two hours, police said. Deputy Commissioner of Police Namrata Patil told PTI that nine people were evacuated from the building.
Viral visuals from the site showed smoke billowing out from the Serum Institute facility.
Chief Fire Officer Prashant Ranpise said 15 water tankers were pressed into action and the fire was brought under control around 4.30 pm. “The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained. Furniture, wiring, cabins were gutted. No major machinery or instruments were stored on the floors where the fire broke out,” he said.
PM Modi was briefly in the first floor of the building during his visit to the Serum Institute of India (SII) in November last year to review the status of the vaccine candidate, SII sources said. Ajit Pawar said, “I have taken information from the Pune Municipal Corporation about the incident and instructed locals officials to carry out a detailed probe into the fire.”
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.