Surat: A massive fire engulfed a multi-storey building, housing a coaching centre, located in the Sarthana area here and claimed as many as 20 lives, including that of several students.
An official said that Surat police has filed an FIR against three people including builders of the complex - Harshal Vekaria and Jignesh, and the owner of the coaching centre Bhargav Bhutani.
The Takshashila Complex caught fire and several students of a coaching centre situated in it were seen jumping off the building to escape the inferno. Some people were unable to escape and died on the spot.
As the rescue operations were carried out, charred bodies of women and children were taken out. The fire was reportedly triggered by a short circuit.
The fire brigade arrived at the spot 45 minutes late, claimed witnesses.
"My daughter was inside the building when the fire broke out. The fire brigade from the fire station, which is not more than 2 km away, took almost 45 minutes to come. Even though my daughter got saved, she is in trauma. At least 5-6 parents are still looking for their missing child," Paresh Patel, father of a rescued girl, told ANI.
Speaking to ANI, a witness Prateek Kansara, said: "At least 22-25 children were rescued via stairs, while 20 others jumped. We came to know that there were 70 children inside the building when the incident happened. We are speculating that over 8-10 children are still inside."
Another witness, Ajay Patel, whose office is opposite the building that caught fire, said the fire brigade came 30-35 minutes late. "The pressure of their pipe was too low to douse the flame," he said.
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has ordered an investigation and announced financial help of 4 lakh each to the families of students who died in the tragedy.
Rupani said: "Twenty people have lost their lives in the tragedy in spite of our rescue efforts. Students of around 20 years of age were trapped in the coaching centre when a fire broke out in the stairway."
We have asked the Urban Development and Urban Housing Department Principal Secretary, Mukesh Puri to immediately investigate and submit a report upon the matter. State Government will provide Rs 4 lakh financial help to families of kids who died," he added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a tweet expressed his condolences to the families of the bereaved and asked the Gujarat government and the local authorities to provide assistance to them. He also prayed for the recovery of the injured.
President Ram Nath Kovind also posted on his twitter: "Extremely sad to hear of the loss of lives, especially of young students, in the tragic fire in Surat. Heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families; wishing an early recovery to those injured."