Meerut, Apr 11 (UNI) The blame game has started even as distraught relatives search for their near and dear amid the ruins of last evening's devastating fire at a consumer exhibition here, in which at least 60 people were killed and nearly 150 injured.
The big question that is doing rounds in the city is: who gave the permission for organising the trade exhibition of such a massive scale? It is learnt that the three air-conditioned stalls for the "Brands India Consumer Show" were put up with permission from the office of Additional District Magistrate (City) Shirish Dubey. However, in clear violation of the norms, the fire department's clearance was not sought. Now each authority is trying to blame the other for the mishap, perhaps the worst tragedy to have hit this bustling city.
At the Victoria Park, the venue of the three-day exhibition, huge steel frames, charred laptops, washing machines, and other burnt consumer goods themselves explain the magnitude of the devastating blaze.
At least 4,000 people were present in conditioned makeshift when the blaze erupted at around 1745 hrs.
Eye-witnesses say the rapid spread of the fire was probably because the tents were made purely of cloth and covered by synthetic material.
The eye-witnesses said there were no no emergency exits or fire-fighting measures in the tents, which probably led to so many casualties.
Wailing relatives of the victims were going from one hospital to another to locate their near and dear ones.
Many of the families complained that they were unable to give a decent burial to their dead as the bodies were charred beyond recognition.
Some of the injured were also said to be critical while many of them have been shifted to hospitals in Delhi and Noida.
Minor scuffles broke out when BJP workers protesting the fire blocked the vehicle of a top administration official during Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav's visit today and were removed forcibly by the police.
The BJP activists, led by MLA Lakshmikant Vajpayee, blocked Meerut Divisional Commissioner Mohinder Singh's car and were removed by the police, who also used force to disband the party workers.
The incident took place during the Chief Minister's visit to the scene of the inferno and local hospitals where the injured have been admitted.
UNI XC/AT RP DS1555