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The Financial Express

Five killed in fire at Pune's Serum Institute’s Manjri plant

| Updated: January 22, 2021 08:29:08


Smoke billows after a fire broke out inside the complex of the Serum Institute of India, in Pune, India, January 21, 2021. REUTERS/Stringer Smoke billows after a fire broke out inside the complex of the Serum Institute of India, in Pune, India, January 21, 2021. REUTERS/Stringer

At least five were killed in a fire that tore through India's Covid-19 vaccine producer Serum Institue of India on Thursday. The deaths were confirmed by Pune district collector Rajesh Deshmukh.

Nine persons were evacuated from a building in the Serum Institute of India's Manjari premises here after a fire broke out there on Thursday, police said.

There would be no loss of Covishield production due to the fire, Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla said.

The Manjari facility is where the Covishield vaccine used in the nationwide inoculation drive against the pandemic is made. The building where the fire broke out is part of the under-construction site of the Serum facility and is one km from the Covishield manufacturing unit, sources said.

"Thank you everyone for your concern and prayers. So far the most important thing is that there have been no lives lost or major injuries due to the fire, despite a few floors being destroyed," Poonawalla tweeted.

"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. Thank you very much @PuneCityPolice & Fire Department," he added.

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 SEZ 3 building in the Serum Institute premises, was brought under control in two hours, police said.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Namrata Patil told PTI that nine people were evacuated from the spot after the fire broke out.

Viral visuals from the site showed smoke billowing out from the Serum Institute facility.

A fire brigade official said the cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained.

A National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team was rushed to the spot, an official said.

Pune Police Commissioner Amitabh Gupta said all the people trapped inside the building where the fire broke out have been evacuated.

Chief Fire Officer Prashant Ranpise said cooling work has commenced at the spot. Nobody was injured in the fire, he added.

Fifteen water tankers were pressed into action and the fire was brought under control around 4.30 pm, he said.

"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. 

"I have taken information from the Pune Municipal Corporation about the incident and an instruction has been given to carry out a detailed probe into the incident," Ajit Pawar said.

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has asked the state machinery to ensure that the fire is brought under control, his office tweeted. He is in touch with the Pune Municipal Commissioner, the CMO added.

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