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New Delhi factory fire kills at least 43 while workers slept

By Allen Cone
New Delhi factory fire kills at least 43 while workers slept
Indian police, civil defense personnel and firefighters cordon off the area where a fire broke out in a factory in New Delhi early Sunday morning, killing at least 43 workers. Photo by Rajat Gupta/EPA-EFE

Dec. 8 (UPI) -- A fire broke out in a six-story factory in New Delhi in India early Sunday, killing at least 43 workers while they were sleeping, authorities said.

At 5:22 a.m., firefighters received a call about the fire the broke out in the lower floors and spread to the third floor where the workers were sleeping, the BBC reported. Thirty fire trucks and more than 150 fire personnel were dispatched, India Today reported to the factory where handbags were made.

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More than 60 people were evacuated from the building and the injured were transported to three local hospitals, Avtar Singh, an assistant division officer for the fire department, told CNN.

Some of the workers died from asphyxiation and others perished when they were unsuccessful escaping from a terrace because it was locked.

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"The problem was the smoke -- all the windows and doors were shut and there was dense smoke inside," said Sunil Choudhary, deputy chief fire officer, told CNN.

"No one could get out. There was an iron door and it was locked and people were brought out only after we broke the door open. It had become a toxic chamber."

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Mohammad Samar, an eyewitness, said there was no way to flee the burning building.

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"There are no proper ways to climb or get down, there is no fire safety, there is nothing," he said.

Officials said am electrical fault sparked the fire, which took almost three hours to put out.

Mohammad Manzur, an eyewitness who helped with rescue efforts, told CNN: "I saw that the boys, who were standing there on the roof, they started screaming ... calling out to me ... saying 'Mullah sir please save me.' "

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Ten years ago, Md Raheem had purchased the 5,400-square-foot and later equally distributed among his three children -- Rehan, Shan e-lahi and Imran, according to New Delhi police. The fire occurred in Rehan's portion.

The building previously reportedly had a fire.

The area includes arrow alleys, which made it difficult to reach the blaze.

"The fire in Delhi's Anaj Mandi on Rani Jhansi Road is extremely horrific," Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi posted on Twitter. "My thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones. Wishing the injured a quick recovery. Authorities are providing all possible assistance at the site of the tragedy."

New Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has announced a compensation of $14,000 to families of those killed and $1,400 to those injured.

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The most deadly fire in New Delhi was at the Uphaar Cinema that killed 59 in 1997.

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