With the fire brigade personnel pulling out more bodies from the charred remains of a coaching centre in a Surat building which caught a major fire on Friday, the death toll in the tragic incident rose to 20, while 16 other students were injured.
As many as 13 students of them were girls and three boys, while four others who were charred beyond recognition were yet to be identified. Four of them died during treatment at a private hospital. The injured were admitted to four different hospitals, including the Government Civil Hospital.
Authorities told reporters that the fire was sparked off at evening by a short circuit in the transformer of the building. As many as 18 fire tenders took several hours to douse the rising flames in the building.
The Surat Municipal Corporation late in the night filed an FIR against three persons, including the builder of Takshashila Arcade in Sarthana area and the person who ran the coaching centre.
The SMC authorities were inquiring whether the building had taken the statutory permission, including regarding fire safety.
The coaching centre was being run on the covered roof-top, which effectively became the fourth storey and there was a three-foot wide wooden staircase to reach there, witnesses said. This was the only entry and exit at the coaching centre.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, who rushed to Surat, ordered an investigation by Mukesh Puri, Principal Secretary, Urban Development, into the incident and announced special assistance of Rs 4 lakh to the families of the deceased children.
Shocked by the incident, Prime Minister Narendra Modi posted on his tweeter handle: "Extremely anguished by the fire tragedy. My thoughts are with bereaved families. May the injured recover quickly. Have asked the Gujarat government and local authorities to provide all possible assistance to those affected."
Several other leaders, including Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, AICC treasurer Ahmed Patel, AICC Gujarat in-charge Rajeev Satav, also condoled the death of the students.