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SSKM blaze kills two
An employee of the eatery. Picture by Bishwarup Dutta

Calcutta, July 13: A restaurant in the SSKM Hospital compound caught fire this afternoon while some 20 customers lunched there, killing two employees and injuring four.

The 12.45am fire at Amantran, which caters mostly to doctors and patients’ relatives, spread panic in the nearby gynaecology, neonatal and cardiology wards. Three fire tenders fought the blaze down in an hour.

Forensic experts blamed an LPG cylinder leak in the kitchen. “Luckily there was no explosion, else many more could have died,” an official said.

The dead — Apurba Ghosh, 22, and Laltu Mondal, 30 — worked in the eatery run by Swapan Das and Associates, who had taken it on lease from an NGO, the Society for Comprehensive Rehabilitation Service.

Ghosh, from Baroa in Murshidabad, and Mondal, from Basirhat in North 24-Parganas, were relaxing with co-worker Balaram Mondal in a small room next to the kitchen when “the fire spread instantly to the room”, an official said.

Balaram managed to escape and has been admitted to the hospital with 15 per cent burns. The three other injured, all of them Amantran staff, have been discharged.

Fire services minister Pratim Chatterjee, who visited the hospital, said: “The restaurant has just one exit and no firefighting equipment. Neither does it follow safety norms relating to storage of cooking gas.”

He said there were nine LPG cylinders in the eatery. “But its licence gets renewed every year without proper inspections,” the minister admitted, blaming lack of manpower.

Hospital authorities said the eatery had been served with several notices about the violations.

Three of Swapan Das and Associates’ managers have been arrested. The government has shut the eatery and asked two others in the compound to close down within 24 hours.

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