Four die in Mumbai highrise fire

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Mumbai : At least four persons, including an elderly woman, were suffocated to death and 14 others injured on Wednesday when a massive fire swept through a highrise building in the city, officials said, adding the fire has been doused after about eight-hour struggle.

The fire broke out on the 12th floor of the 17-storied Crystal Tower building located in Parel. The flames quickly spread to the 13th floor and adjacent flats, trapping many of the 100-plus residents in the building. The Mumbai Fire Brigade rushed 12 fire tenders, a snorkel and other advanced equipment to combat the blaze. The firemen wearing gas-masks managed to rescue 20 persons. Though the exact cause of the fire is being investigated, officials suspect it could have been sparked by a short-circuit. The cause of the four deaths was attributed to the dense smoke which had accumulated inside. Two of the victims were identified as Shubhada Shelke, 62, and Bablu Shaikh, 36. The identities of the two other persons was being ascertained. Among the injured were two firemen -- Rajeev Narwade and Sandeep Manjre, said an official. Residents said the building was not granted the occupation certificate, lacked functional fire-fighting equipment and proper fire escapes. Mumbai Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar said a probe would find out if there were any safety violations in the building. The role of fire-woman Sunita B. Patil came in for appreciation after she rescued at least 17 trapped residents. A 10-year old girl Zane Sadavarte guided the panic-stricken residents who were running helter-skelter and screaming for help from the upper floors. "I have learnt in school how to remain composed during emergencies like fire. I told all the people to use wet towels, avoid inhaling the dangerous fumes, move in an orderly fashion to the stairs and avoid touching electrical gadgets," Zane told mediapersons. Meanwhile, an official of BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said this evening that the redeveloped Crystal Tower building was occupied without a certificate in 2016. "Notices were issued to the 58 flat occupants, owner/developer and architect by the BMC, and prosecution launched against them under relevent laws. The matter is currently sub judice," said the official.