One dead, nine employees of factory still missing in Himachal fire

The fire in the perfume factory Aroma started at around 1.30 p.m. on Friday and work to extinguish it is still ongoing

A total of 85 employees were in the factory when the fire started (photo: IANS)
A total of 85 employees were in the factory when the fire started (photo: IANS)
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IANS

Nine employees of a perfume manufacturing factory have been missing after a massive blaze broke out on Friday in Himachal Pradesh’s industrial hub Baddi, officials said on Saturday.

The fire in the factory of N.R. Aroma started at around 1.30 p.m. on Friday and work to extinguish the fire is still ongoing in the factory located in Jhar Majri. So far, 30 workers are reported to have been injured in the fire as per official records, one of them later succumbing to her injuries. A total of 85 employees were trapped in the blaze.

The owner of the factory, Chander Shekhar, has been arrested, and the government has ordered a magisterial probe into the disaster.

The police in a statement on Saturday said about 12 fire tenders from Himachal, Haryana, Punjab and local industries were pressed into service to control the fire.

An FIR has been registered at Barotiwala police station under sections 285 (negligent conduct with respect to fire or combustible matter), 336 (endangering life or personal safety of others), 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others), and 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the IPC.

Director-general of police Sanjay Kundu, who visited the spot, announced the formation of a special investigation team to conduct a thorough investigation into the matter. The SIT will include additional superintendent of police Ashok Verma, deputy superintendent of police Khazana Ram, and station house officer Sanjay Sharma.

“The police are currently conducting an urgent search for nine individuals reported missing following the fire. As per the investigation so far, 85 persons were in the factory at the time of the fire and 30 have been admitted in various hospitals with injuries, one female was brought dead to the PGI in Chandigarh and the rest are reported safe,” said the police.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) is currently assessing the structural safety of the site and working to clear it of hazardous gases such as carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulphide and sulphur dioxide, said the police.

Following the clearance, an HP Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) team will conduct a spot inspection and collect necessary evidence. Given the complex nature of the fire, the DGP has requested the state government for assistance from a Central forensic science team.

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