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B'luru fire: Cops probing even sabotage angle

February 24, 2010 16:39 IST

An inquiry by the Bengaluru police has been ordered into the fire at a commercial complex that left nine persons dead and all angles, including sabotage, would be probed, a top Karnataka police official said on Wednesday.

The inquiry would be conducted by Assistant Commissioner of Police (Ulsoor Division) G B Manjunath, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) M R Poojar told PTI.

Nine persons, including three who jumped in panic, died in the fire at the seven-storeyed Carlton Towers, housing several software companies and commercial establishments, on Tuesday evening and over 50 were hospitalised for burns and suffocation.

Authorities at the Manipal Hospital where the injured are being treated told mediapersons that 38 of the 59 persons brought to the hospital have been discharged.

Fourteen out of the remaining 21 were still in the intensive care unit. "We will have to find out whether the building, built by Chennai-based Southern Investments Construction Company, complied with all fire safety regulations and had its electrical installations and other requisites in place", Poojar said.

On possibility of any sabotage behind the fire, he said, "We are keeping an open mind. We will examine all the angles."

Four to five agencies, including the Forensic Science Laboratory and Inspectorate of Electrical Safety, have already conducted inspections at the building.

All efforts will be made to complete the inquiry 'as early as possible,' Poojar said. Chief Fire Officer E U Erappa said though the building was cleared 10-12 years back.

Passports, wallets go missing in blaze

Plans of flying back home went up in smoke for a Finnish national in Bengaluru as the blaze at Carlton Towers not only took a toll on his business, but also saw him losing his passport and wallet.

"I was scheduled to fly out, but have lost everything", he says, "I don't know how I will go back. I have no passport and no money," he said, while recounting how his personal belongings went missing in the ensuing melee after the blaze.

Standing outside the locked gates a day after the tragic incident, he urged security men gate to give him a chance to search for his belongings.

Another colleague narrates that her mobile, laptop and purse -- all left at the office table on hearing the chaos outside, had disappeared in barely 20 minutes when they returned to pick their belongings and escape.

"Our money, pan card, debit card, we suspect have been stolen," she said, lamenting that even a fire had not deterred some from taking advantage of the situation.

Carlton Towers which is usually abuzz with activity, with clicking of computers and people zooming in and out of lifts, wore an empty look on Wednesday as all commercial activity came to a standstill, even as forensic experts, police and fire brigade personnel took charge.

A board that announces 'To Let' has its shutter downed, with its owner sceptical whether he would get anyone to rent out the room. "I came here all the way from Cochin when I heard about the blaze. I have a small office here which I had planned to let out," he says with a shrug.

Image: Smoke billows out of Carlton Towers in Bengaluru after a fire mishap on Tuesday | Photograph: KPN photos

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