At least 27 people have been killed and dozens more injured in a major fire in a commercial building in the Indian capital Delhi.
The major fire broke out late Friday afternoon in the four-storey building near a train station in the western suburb of Mundka, but the cause was not immediately clear.
Television images showed smoke billowing from the windows of the building as firefighters helped those trapped on the upper floors escape as hundreds watched. More than 30 fire trucks were on the scene, along with ambulances.
“Twenty-seven charred bodies have been recovered from the building and nearly two dozen injured are being treated,” said Satpal Bharadwaj, who oversaw the operations of the Delhi fire brigade at the scene.
The fire broke out on the first floor of the building that houses the office of a surveillance camera manufacturer, police said.
Police said they arrested two owners of the business on Saturday. Police registered a case of culpable homicide that does not amount to murder and a criminal conspiracy that is punishable by life imprisonment or 10 years in prison.
The building did not have permission from the fire service and it was not equipped with fire protection equipment such as fire extinguishers, said Atul Garg, the director of the Delhi Fire Service.
Bharadwaj said there were about 70 people in the building when the fire broke out.
“There was no emergency exit and most people died of asphyxiation,” Bharadwaj said, adding that more would become known after autopsies could be performed.
The deputy chief of police, Sunil Choudhary, said the number of injured was “more than 25 people”. Choudhary added that some had jumped from the burning building.
Broadcaster NDTV, meanwhile, reported that more than 40 people had suffered burns and were hospitalized.
Amit Mahajan, whose nephew and nephew went missing after the fire, said they had been in the building “training workers”.
“I have visited all the nearby hospitals, but there is no trace of it. We are not sure about their safety or whereabouts,” he said.
Fires are common in India due to poor building practices, overcrowding and a lack of compliance with safety regulations.
The Indian capital of 20 million people is currently suffering a heat wave, with temperatures reaching 46C in places.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences on Twitter.
“Extremely saddened by the loss of life as a result of a tragic fire in Delhi. My thoughts are with the bereaved families. I wish the injured a speedy recovery,” Modi said.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted: “Shocked and pained to know about this tragic incident. I am in constant contact [with] officers. Our brave firefighters are doing their best to bring the fire under control and save lives.”
With Agence France-Presse, Associated Press and Reuters