An elderly woman who had come from Bangladesh for treatment at a private hospital in Kolkata was killed in a fire at a Mirza Ghalib Street guesthouse where she had put up.
The smoke spread across the rooms of the four-storey building early on Saturday. Two were injured and have been hospitalised while 16 others who were trapped were rescued.
Samimatul Aros, 60, who was getting treated at a hospital along EM Bypass, was in one of the first-floor rooms, police said.
Aros is believed to have suffocated to death, an officer of New Market police station said.
A short-circuit is suspected to have caused the fire in the reception area of Rahbar Guesthouse.
Mainul Haque, 35, from Murshidabad and Mehtab Alam, 42, of Bangladesh who suffered burns have been admitted to SSKM Hospital and Calcutta Medical College and Hospital.
The fire was reported around 4am, following which three fire tenders reached the spot. The police said there are 11 rooms in the hotel.
A man who was in one of the rooms and managed to come out said he spotted the fire and took shelter in the room on the corner of the floor where the fire did not reach.
“We could come out but those who were too old and ill were stuck inside,” he said.
Police, firefighters and disaster management group personnel were involved in the rescue operation that was carried out through the windows facing the road.
Three persons, including the owner of the building and the day and night-shift managers, have been arrested for culpable homicide not amounting to murder (Part II) that deals with the offence of having knowledge about the consequences of an act. Sections under West Bengal Fire Services Act have also been slapped against the accused.
“The building did not have any firefighting equipment. This was not just negligence but also an act of culpable homicide, not amounting to murder where the accused knew that not maintaining firefighting equipment could lead to fatal consequences,” a police officer said.
Deputy commissioner (central) Rupesh Kumar, who went to the spot early on Saturday said the building’s owner, Gulam Bari, day shift manager Mamoon Rashid and night shift manager Visalia Gupta were arrested on Saturday afternoon. Kumar said 16 guests were rescued.
The ground floor of the building has shops and commercial establishments. The first and second floors have hotel rooms while the top floor is occupied by the owner and his family.
The fire broke out in the first floor and gradually spread to parts of the second floor, the police said.
“By the time I reached, all the guests had been shifted. Luckily the fire did not spread to other parts of the building. Our shop is intact,” said Vishal Shaw, who runs a medicine shop on the ground floor.
Thousands of Bangladeshi nationals come to Calcutta every year for treatment. The families that come for treatment either stay on rent in guesthouses along EM Bypass that are closest to the hospital where they get treated or at relatively cheaper hotels in central Calcutta.
The pandemic had reduced the number of Bangladeshis visiting the city for treatment because of travel restrictions. However, with the normalisation of flights, the number of patients from outside is gradually increasing.
The incident brought back memories of the fire at AMRI Hospitals in Dhakuria in 2011 where a fire in the basement had killed 92 patients and staff.
Fire breaks out at Tangra tannery
The tannery engulfed in flames on Saturday eveningFile Picture
A fire broke out at a tannery on a congested Meher Ali Lane in Tangra around 6.30pm on Saturday, endangering several residential blocks surrounding the factory.
No casualties or injuries had been reported till 9pm.
Police said residents of adjoining buildings were being evacuated till late evening before the fire could spread.
Twenty fire tenders were pressed into action but cops said only one relatively smaller fire engine could reach the building because the lane leading to the factory was too narrow for multiple tenders.
State fire minister Sujit Bose who visited the spot said the entire building had been engulfed in flames and efforts were on to contain the fire.
“We are trying our best to contain the fire. The area is very narrow, it is very difficult for the fire tenders to reach the spot,” he said.
Our Special Correspondent