Delhi factory fire: Indian police arrest owner and manager

The blaze killed at least 43 workers on Sunday

Indian police have arrested the owner and manager of an illegal bag factory in New Delhi, a day after a blaze there killed 43 people.

The Sunday blaze started early in the morning when more than a hundred workers were sleeping in the four-storey building located in a residential part of Delhi.

The factory, which made school bags and toys according to Indian media, was packed with combustible materials like paper, plastic and cardboard, causing it to burn for hours before being brought under control.

The massive fire, believed to have been caused by an electrical short circuit, killed 43 people and had to be fought from 100 meters away because it broke out in one of the area’s many alleyways, which was too narrow for fire vehicles to access.

Workers from BSES Yamuna Power Limited walk on a street near a factory site where a fire broke out a day before, in Anaj Mandi area of New Delhi on December 9, 2019. At least 43 people were killed on December 9 in a devastating fire that ripped through a bag factory in the congested old quarter of the Indian capital New Delhi, with survivors describing the screams of workers trapped inside. / AFP / Sajjad  HUSSAIN

On Monday, fire officials said they were able to douse a small secondary fire in the factory.

Most workers employed at the unit used to live in the factory itself, cooking meals there. The Indian Express quoted one of the victims who had telephoned a neighbour in his hometown in central India saying he was trapped and going to die soon and that he should take care of his family.

Fire engines had struggled to access the congested lane where the building was located, witnesses said.

Frequent raids by civic authorities to enforce building codes, fire safety measures and evacuation procedures have failed to curb violations in the rapidly expanding city of around 20 million people.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced compensation of 1 million rupees for the families of those killed.