Smoke, choke, excruciating death or jumping off 4th floor: Choices Surat fire survivors had
Surat, May 25: Recalling the horror of being trapped in a building engulfed in fire, survivors narrated how they had to make a choice between two options, both of which could have resulted in death. Only difference was the degree of suffering and the pain which varied slightly between the two options.
Flames engulfed Taxshila Arcade in Gujarat's Surat on Friday evening and at that time around 60 students were in four different coaching centres. The fire broke out around 3.30 PM, engulfing third and fourth floors of the building. Most of the students were reported to be between the age of 14 and 17.
The fire started near the staircase, so the teens could not get down. With no safety equipment in the building, the youth were trapped amid raging fire. Fear and panic gripped young minds paving way to chaos.
"A lot of smoke accumulated on the top floor where there were AC compressors and tyres, which also caught fire. There was no escape route available for the students who got trapped on the top floors," said a fire official, as per reports.
There were only two choices that remained for the trapped students - either wait for fire to reach them, choke or charr them to painful death or jump from the terrace.
Urmila Patel jumped off the building to escape the blaze and smoke, reported Hindustan Times. "We were on the fourth and top floor. Suddenly, there was smoke all around. We found it extremely difficult to breathe. We shouted for help...I called out for my mother and rushed toward the only staircase. But stairs were also engulfed in fire,'' said Urmila.
She, along with a few other who took similar step, are undergoing treatment at P P Savani Hospital for injuries.
At least 20 students were killed and several injured after a major fire broke out at a coaching centre in Sarthana area of Surat on Friday. Disturbing visuals showed some students jumping off the multi-storey building in an attempt to escape the inferno.
"20 people have died and more than 20 have been injured in the fire that broke out in Surat yesterday. An FIR has been registered against three people. All type of tuition classes have been stopped for now, classes can only be conducted after the required fire safety checks are done & a fire safety certificate has been obtained," Satish Sharma, Surat Police Commissioner, told the media today (May 25).
"Have arrested the man who used to conduct the tuition classes," he added.
The accused coaching class owner has been identified as Bhargav Butani, and the builders as Harshul Vekaria and Jignesh Paliwal. "We have already arrested Butani. Hunt is on to nab the remaining two," Sharma said. A massive fire had engulfed the four-storey commercial complex in Surat.