Surat fire: Toll climbs to 22, coaching class owner held, 2 on the run
Surat, May 25: The toll in the devastating fire that engulfed a commercial complex in Surat's Sarthana area has gone up to 22 with two more students succumbing to burn injuries, a senior police official said on Saturday.
Surat police spokesperson and assistant commissioner of police P L Chaudhari on Saturday identified the two deceased students, both teenagers, as Karnavi Sitapara and Dhruvi Ribadiya. Both were undergoing treatment in separate hospitals, he added.
"As per the latest information, two teenage girls have died today, taking the toll to 22, including 18 girls and four teenage boys. A child about 3-4 years-old received burn injuries in the incident and is currently hospitalised," said ACP Chaudhari.
"Majority of the victims were in the age bracket of 17 to 18. They were students of a coaching institute imparting art and craft training on the third floor of the ill-fated Takshashila Enclave in Sarthana area," he said. Inspector M M Puwar of Sarthana police station also confirmed the death of 22 students. While the owner of the coaching class, identified as Bhargav Butani, was arrested Saturday, two others -- Harshul Vekaria and Jignesh Paliwal -- both builders, are on the run, Surat police commissioner Satish Sharma said earlier in the day.
"Police registered an FIR under various sections (of the Indian Penal Code) against three persons last night. They include two builders, Harshul Vekaria and Jignesh Paliwal, and owner of the coaching class Bhargav Butani. Further probe has been handed over to Surat crime branch," Sharma told reporters.
It was found that three of the deceased -- Yashvi Kevadiya, Mansi Varsani and Hasti Surani -- had appeared for class 12 exams of the Gujarat board and passed, the results of which were declared on Saturday. All of them were studying in Ashadeep School in Surat. While Kevadiya passed the exam with 67.75 percentile (C1 grade), Varsani received 52.03 (C1 grade) and Surani 69.39 percentile (B2 grade), revealed the results shared by school authorities Saturday.
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani Friday ordered a fire safety audit of schools, colleges and coaching centres across the state following the incident in Surat. He had also ordered a probe under Additional Chief Secretary of the Urban Development Department Mukesh Puri. Visiting the site of the tragedy Friday, Rupani said the audit would find out if educational establishments in the state have proper equipment and facilities to deal with fire incidents.