Dozens trapped in burning Mantralaya, navy called
A major fire raged in the Maharashtra Mantrayala or secretariat
here Thursday, with a man who escaped claiming that some 50 people
were trapped in the building. Scores of people were
people were injured as a major fire swept the Maharashtra Mantralaya or secretariat here Thursday, with officials saying
that everyone had been rescued from the building and the blaze was
Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan Thursday said that
the massive fire that gutted most of the top four floors was now
under control. He also ordered a probe by the Crime Branch into
Chavan, who held an emergency meeting in the evening, discussed
the situation with other ministers and planned alternative
arrangements for ministers to function till the situation
normalised at the state government's administrative headquarters.
"An inquiry has been ordered. Crime Branch will start inquiry into
the matter," Chavan told reporters after the meeting.
"It (the blaze) started on fourth floor from room no 411," he
Relief and Rehabilitation Secretary Pravin Pardeshi had said that
65 people trapped on the fifth and sixth floor had been evacuated
by Fire Brigade personnel.
"There are no more people inside. Fire fighters are combing the
place again to check if anyone has been trapped inside," he said.
Of the 16 injured, all were in stable condition barring one,
Chief Secretary J. Banthia had also announced at a press
conference in the afternoon that all the employees had been
This press conference also attended by some ministers turned
stormy after journalists and a section of secretariat employees
demanded to know how such an inferno could spread so fast in a
high security complex.
Chavan, whose office was gutted, looked sombre as he entered the
complex with the building still on fire in the evening. He avoided
Officials said 16 people had suffered varying injuries, with six
officials warded in hospitals.
Tribal Welfare Minister Babanrao Pachpute was among the first to
try to fight the massive fire, before realising its extent and
"I was working in my chamber. Suddenly, I heard an explosion and
saw a lot of smoke coming out," Pachpute, whose office is on the
fourth floor, told media persons.
Believing it to be a minor fire, he grabbed a fire extinguisher
and attempted to douse it, he said, adding he escaped with another
minister after realising the extent of the blaze.
Some employees escaped via pipes and cables outside.
"I climbed down a water pipe to escape the flames," said a
breathless man who said that others made similar attempts to
escape by clutching to thick electricity cables and drainage
There were frightening scenes as employees, including women, in
the higher floors frantically tried to get out.
Many crowded balconies or perched on window sills and on ledges
outside the windows. All of them were taken down by the Mumbai
Fire Service using lift ladders.
A total of 21 fire tenders fought the fire which first broke out
on the floor four at 2.15 p.m., as thick dark clouds of smoke
billowed from the windows, darkening the Mumbai sky.
Authorities said a strong breeze from the sea helped the fire to
spread to higher floors and to other sections of the vast
Officials admitted a sea of official documents had been destroyed.
A main control tower atop the building which is linked to all the
district headquarters in the state was damaged and rendered
non-functional in the blaze, besides furniture and fittings,
computers, original files and documents of various departments
pertaining to important official decisions.
Earlier, a man who escaped claimed that some 50 people were
trapped in the building, spreading panic.
Rescue workers appealed to those trapped to get to the roof for
rescue by navy helicopters.
Several Marine Commandos joined the rescue operations.
Throughout the fire, more and more fire engines with their sirens
wailing raced to the burning Mantralaya from other parts of the
The landmark building, in the heart of South Mumbai, employs some
1,500 men and women. Every day it gets an equal number of