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Engineer dies in bed, laptop & cell charred

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By Staff Reporter
  • Published 6.11.11

Calcutta, Nov. 5: Sayan Chaudhuri, a 32-year-old senior consultant with PricewaterhouseCoopers, apparently died in his sleep at his Calcutta home this morning after inhaling carbon monoxide produced by a fire that broke out in his bedroom.

All the room’s windows were closed, trapping the gas, and the fire partially burnt the victim’s body. The firemen who battled an hour to douse the flames said Sayan’s laptop, mobile, iPod and mattress too were partially burnt, as was the power cord connecting the laptop to a switchboard.

The cause of the fire at the two-storey house in Patuli, 1km from EM Bypass on the city’s southern fringes, is unclear. A fire in a closed space can produce high levels of the poisonous carbon monoxide.

“A short circuit in the switchboard, to which the laptop was connected, or even a burning cigarette may have caused the fire. We have to wait for the forensic report,” a fire officer said.

A domestic help had spotted thick fumes coming out of the window of the bathroom attached to Sayan’s first-floor bedroom around 6.45am, police said. Sayan’s parents and aunt, who live on the ground floor, then broke the bedroom door open to find a part of the bed in flames, a neighbour said.

“A large part of Sayan’s backside was burnt.... They moved Sayan from the bed, carried him downstairs and poured buckets of water on him. But he was already dead,” said a senior police officer at Patuli police station, close to the Chaudhuris’ home, 41/5 Kendua Road.

“The preliminary post-mortem suggests he died of carbon monoxide inhalation, apparently while asleep,” joint commissioner of police (crime) Damayanti Sen said. Since the gas is odourless and colourless, even victims who are awake often fail to realise they are inhaling it, she added.

Sayan, father of a six-month-old girl, was a “very bright professional and had been rising fast in the organisation since switching from Cognizant Technology Solutions”, said a friend who did not wish to be named.

The victim was alone last night because his wife Roshnai, also a PwC employee, has been staying with her parents in Behala since the birth of their daughter Anumeha in May.

Numbed by shock, the Chaudhuris were in no condition to speak. This newspaper got the names of Sayan’s wife and daughter and the latter’s month of birth from a Facebook account in his name.

According to the account, Sayan had studied at Jodhpur Park Boys’ School and done his BTech in chemical engineering from Rajabazar Science College in 2005.