A massive fire swept through a plush rooftop pub in downtown Mumbai during a birthday bash before swiftly raging through the building, leaving 14 people dead and 21 injured, officials said today.Among those killed was Khushbu Bansali, the woman who was celebrating her 29th birthday at “1 Above” pub in upscale Parel’s Kamala Mill compound, and several of her friends.Two American brothers of Indian origin, and their aunt, who had gone to celebrate Khushbu’s birthday, were also among the dead.The blaze, the cause of which is not clear yet, started after 12.30 am at the 1 Above pub on the terrace, resulting in collapse of its bamboo-propped canopy, as towering flames leapt metres into the dark sky. It also engulfed the Mojo’s Bistro pub a storey below.Most of the victims died of asphyxiation, said Avinash Supe, dean of the KEM hospital where the injured and dead were brought.Also readKamala Mills fire: Know the story behind this pictureThe mirth and merriment of the party gave way to mayhem as people, screaming and scamparing, looked for exit doors, toppling and trampling over each other.Some escaped to safety, while others found their way blocked by fire and suffocating smoke.Many panicked patrons took shelter in a toilet, and got asphyxiated to death. Some could make it out alive.Teams of fire brigade and police rushed to the spot and 35 injured people were pulled out from inside the pub and taken to hospital, a police official said.Several media outlets, including TV news channels Times Now, ET Now and TV9 Marathi, have offices in the complex.Harish Pathak, head of the forensic department at KEM Hospital said most of those who lost their lives in the tragedy were brought dead.Police have booked Hratesh Sanghvi, Jigar Sanghvi and Abhijeet Manka of C Grade Hospitality, which manages the pub, along with others, under various charges including cuplable homicide not amounting to murder.They have also been charged under IPC sections 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others).Two of those booked have been detained. The civic body of the megapolis-BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation–suspended its five officials belonging to various branches over their role in the incident.Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind expressed anguish over the tragedy.”Anguished by the fire in Mumbai. My thoughts are with the bereaved families in this hour of grief. I pray that those injured recover quickly,” the Prime Minister’s Office tweeted.Also readKamala Mills tragedy: Pub claims fire emanated from ‘adjoining quarters,’ rejects cops’ version on safety violations Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said he has asked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Commissioner to hold an enquiry and submit a report within 15 days.”Five (civic) officials have already been suspended and appropriate sections of the Indian Penal Code will be invoked against the owners of the pub, making them responsible for the loss of lives. The guilty won’t be spared,” Fadnavis said.Business rivals–1 Above and Mojo’s Bistro–that bore the brunt of the inferno, claimed all fire safety measures were in place at their premises.However, 1 Above claimed Mojo’s Bistro did not have an emergency exit, leading to overcrowding of its escape avenues.”1 Above has all its fire safety regulations, licences, procedures and norms in place. We’ve been able to help save many lives thanks to our fire safety protocols,” the statement claimed.A statement from Mojo’s claimed the facility had all its fire safety norms, certificates and procedures in place.The staff, it said, was “thoroughly trained” in fire drills due to which the guests could be evacuated.Some patrons of ‘1 Above’ casually took selfies of the massive flames and plumes of smoke that soared into the sky, while a few others lay immobilised in drunken stupor, delaying evacuation, eyewitnesses and rescuers said.”At around ten minutes past midnight, I got out of my office after hearing commotion. A sea of people came rushing at me. They were basically running wherever the pathway led them to,” Mahesh Sable, who works for a private security agency and helped evacuate around 150 people from the Trade House Building, told PTI.”We could hear calls for help, glasses were breaking, bottles were falling down, the entire place was in flames and engulfed by smoke. I could not go in again after getting the injured people out,” he said.His colleague Sanjay Giri, who was also on the night shift, said he was on the ground floor and rushed up to guide the patrons who were stuck.Also readMumbai’s Kamala Mills Fire | When midnight birthday bash turned into a funeral Giri said initially the drunken stupor of some of the patrons and an obsession with getting videos of the rooftop pub engulfed in fire delayed rescue efforts.”I guided whoever we could see. It was later, after we went down, that they told us about their relatives and friends being stuck in the toilet. A few voice and video calls were also made,” Giri added.One of the survivors told a TV news channel that her friend, who had got locked inside a toilet, called her up on the mobile phone desperately seeking help. She could not be brought out alive.Dr Sulbha KG Arora, a Mumbai doctor, told NDTV news channel, she was at the 1 Above restaurant.”There was no time for anyone to reach out because the fire spread so rapidly. The staff members of the restaurant were trying to help the customers as much as possible,” she told NDTV on the phone.”There was a stampede and someone pushed me. People were running over me even as the ceiling above me was collapsing in flames,” she said separately in a tweet. “Still don’t know how I got out alive.”
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