At least five persons succumbed in a fire that broke out on the campus of the Serum Institute of India (SII) at Manjari in Pune on Thursday afternoon, officials confirmed. Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla has clarified that the fire will not impact Covishield production.
The fire brigade team found the bodies of five persons, including one woman, after the blaze was brought under control. “It is unfortunate that five people lost their lives in the fire. More facts are awaited,” Pune Mayor Murlidhar Mohol said.
Mohol said, “Preliminary information, which is yet to be confirmed, suggests that these five persons were workers employed by a contractor. There are reports that the fire started at the place where welding work in the new building was on.”
A fire brigade official informed, “As per our knowledge, the building is not directly connected to Covishield manufacturing.”
SII factory manager Vivek Pradhan said the floor where the fire broke out was a rota-virus lab. “There is no stock of Covishield,” he said.
“As per initial information, the fire did not erupt at the unit where the COVID-19 vaccine is being produced, but in the unit where the BCG vaccine is produced,” said Uddhav Thackeray, CM of Maharashtra.
“The fire was brought under control at 4.15 pm. Cooling operations, in which water is used to reduce the increased temperature on the premises, are currently on. A total of nine people who were trapped have been rescued,” Prashant Ranpise, the Chief Fire Officer with Pune City Fire Brigade, had said earlier.
‘I would like to reassure all governments and the public that there would be no loss of #COVISHIELD production due to multiple production buildings that I had kept in reserve to deal with such contingencies at @SerumInstIndia,’ Poonawalla tweeted.
‘We have just received some distressing updates; upon further investigation, we have learnt that there has unfortunately been some loss of life at the incident. We are deeply saddened and offer our deepest condolences to the family members of the departed,’ Poonawalla added.
(Source: The Indian Express, with inputs from agencies)