Battery factory collapses in fire in New Delhi, killing 1

Smoke is seen after a factory caught fire and collapsed in New Delhi's Peera Garhi area on Jan 2, 2020.
Smoke is seen after a factory caught fire and collapsed in New Delhi's Peera Garhi area on Jan 2, 2020.PHOTO: AP

NEW DELHI (AP) - A factory manufacturing batteries in the Indian capital caught fire and collapsed Thursday (Jan 2), killing one firefighter and injuring at least 19 others, officials said.

A fire official said three people were rescued from the debris of the building in the Peera Garhi area in western New Delhi.

Thirty-five fire engines were at the site, and the rescue operation was continuing for some people feared trapped there.

The fire official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to release the information.

Mr Arvind Kejriwal, New Delhi state’e top elected official, said in a tweet that one of the injured firefighters had died.

The fire service control room said that 19 firefighters were injured in the operation and one of them later died in a hospital.

One security guard also was injured in the massive fire that broke out in the basement of the building early Thursday.

Police said the rescue work was over.  

There were no workers inside the building when the fire broke out around 4am, the police said.

The blaze was extinguished, but a heavy smoke engulfed the rear portion of the building which collapsed.

It contained inflammable material like acid and plastic used for making batteries, the police said.

The cause of the fire was being investigated, police said.

Mr Deepu Pandey, an eyewitness, many explosions could be heard coming from the building until it finally collapsed around 9am.

"The basement in this building was very large as the entire stock of batteries used to be stored there. That’s why we can still hear explosions every now and then," said Mr Sarvan Maurya, who worked as a supervisor in the factory.

Poor safety standards are a frequent cause of fires in India. Last month, a fire believed to be caused by an electrical short circuit engulfed a building in New Delhi, killing at least 43 people.