Smoke billows from the Taxshila Complex after a fire engulfed the third and fourth floor of the coaching centre, in Surat on Friday, May 24, 2019. 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. Gujarat Chief Minister, Vijay Rupani who ordered an investigation into the incident by Mukesh Puri, principal secretary in the urban development department, later rushed to Surat. He also ordered a fire safety audit of schools, colleges, coaching centres, hospitals, malls and other commercial buildings across the state, and visited the injured children in hospitals. While Gujarat Chief Minister, Vijay Rupani said at least 19 students died in the fire, his deputy Nitin Patel put the figure at 20.
Rupani said the injured are being treated in various hospitals near the incident site. Expressing anguish, he announced a compensation of Re 4 lakh for the kin of the deceased. The injured students will be given quick and proper treatment. The students were attending tuition classes when the fire broke out at the Taxshila building. Officials said at least 10 students on the third and fourth floors jumped to the ground to save themselves from the fire and smoke. Joint Commissioner of Police Harikrishna Patel said, “The fire started near the staircase, so they could not get down. All the dead were aged below 20 years. An official of Surat fire control room said, “Nineteen fire tenders and two hydraulic platforms were pressed into service to douse the fire and rescue those stuck inside the building. The fire was doused within an hour. No safety equipment was reportedly installed in the building”. Amid chaos on the top floor, particularly in the room where children were confined, a class 10 girl student showed presence of mind and calmly followed her teacher to safety, while helping another student. Urmi Harsukhbhai Vekari, one of the survivors said, “I had joined this drawing classes just three days ago.
There were 20-30 boys and girls learning drawing from Bhargav sir. Suddenly, there was a lot of smoke in the room. Initially we thought that somebody had burnt papers. Thereafter, we came to know that the fire had erupted and everybody panicked and they started jumping off”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, expressing anguish said, “I have directed the state government and the local authorities to provide all possible assistance to those affected. Extremely anguished by the fire tragedy in Surat. My thoughts are with bereaved families. May the injured recover quickly. Joint Commissioner of Police Harikrishna Patel said,here was no escape route for children. Local people helped with the operation to save stranded students and other occupants of the building that houses coaching classes and other establishments. Authorities of Surat Municipal Corporation are investigating if the building had taken the statutory permission, including those related to the fire safety. The state government has also brought in forensic experts to ascertain the exact cause of the fire.
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