Three employees of a fast-food centre, who had gone off to sleep without dousing the clay oven, were found dead inside the eatery at Golabari, in central Howrah, on Wednesday morning. Two of their colleagues, too, lay unconscious. Local police probing the deaths said there was not enough oxygen in the room. The two unconscious men were admitted to a local hospital, where they are fighting for their life.
Rahul Srivastava, additional superintendent of police (town) of Howrah, said: “Apparently, the oxygen level inside the room, where the five employees were sleeping, fell because the flames in the oven were still alive. So, they found it difficult to breathe.”
The victims are yet to be identified. The two unconscious men were identified as Shankar, 40, and Manoj, 32. Police have sent the bodies for post-mortem.
Residents of Dobson Road, where the eatery is located, noticed smoke coming out through one of the two ventilators. They informed the police and called in the fire brigade.
Firemen, initially, found it difficult to enter the eatery. They had to use gas cutters to slice open the shutters. “It was already too late when we entered the room. The five men were lying on the floor. After examining them, doctors found that two of them were alive,” said an officer of Golabari police station. Policemen found burning embers in the clay oven when they entered the kitchen. “There were two ventilators. The tragedy would not have occurred if they had kept one window open,” said a policeman.
As the news of the deaths spread, local people rushed to the spot. They demanded the immediate arrest of the eatery-owner, who is absconding.