Kolkata: A fire broke out on Thursday between Rabindra Sadan and Maidan metro station in Kolkata that affected the train services and left several passengers injured. At least 42 passengers were rushed to SSKM Hospital while five were taken to Calcutta Medical College and Hospital. Passengers claimed they kept calling the helpline number, but the rescue team only reached much later.
“Many had injuries and cut marks, a few of them were having breathing problems. Five have been admitted, the rest will be discharged after medication,” said a source at the hospital. As per sources, around 1,500 passengers panicked after smoke filled coaches. Some broke windows to jump out into the tunnel between Rabindra Sadan and Maidan metro station. No casualty was however reported, said police.
Metro CPRO Indrani Banerjee had said, “A fire broke out in Rabindra Sadan-Maidan metro at around 5.10 PM. The fire was controlled by our staff using fire hydrants. Fire services and Kolkata Police disaster management groups were also involved. The passengers of the affected metro were evacuated safely.”
The smoke was first detected at around 4.50 PM when the train was approaching Maidan station, sources said, adding the power switched was turned off while the fire was brought under control.
“We were stuck inside for more than 40 minutes. We could see flames and feel the smoke. We kept calling on the helpline but no one came to the rescue. Some even jumped off the coach by breaking the windows,” said Aritri Dey, a passenger. A fellow commuter, Malabika Dey, also claimed that rescue operations took time.
Reportedly, Kolkata Metro officials denied the delay. Metro authorities said that after the fire was put out and the cooling process was completed, the emergency gate was opened and evacuation of passengers started.
State fire minister Sujit Bose, who rushed to the spot, received complaints from several passengers on Metro’s delayed response. “It is up to Metro to probe if there was any lacunae in their response. But all I can say at this point of time is that if a fire happens, it has to be dealt with quickly,” he said.
Metro authorities as well as state fire department are probing the incident. “The fire is being probed. We are speaking to Metro authorities about the exact cause of the fire and what can be done to ensure the safety of passengers,” said fire services director general Jagmohan.