Many feared trapped in major fire in India’s financial capital Mumbai

Smoke is seen coming out of a Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) building after a fire broke out, in Mumbai, India July 22, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 22 July 2019

Many feared trapped in major fire in India’s financial capital Mumbai

  • Television channels said nearly 100 people may be trapped in the building that houses the office of state-owned telecoms company MTNL
  • “The fire has been confined to the third and fourth floor of the building,” the fire department said

MUMBAI: A major fire broke out on Monday in a nine-story government building in India’s financial capital of Mumbai, with several people feared trapped, fire officials said.

Television channels said nearly 100 people may be trapped in the building that houses the office of state-owned telecoms company MTNL.

“The fire has been confined to the third and fourth floor of the building,” the fire department, which has dispatched 14 fire engines to the site, said in a text message.

A Reuters witness said five or six people were on a balcony on one floor, with some waving white handkerchiefs.

An officer said 14 fire engines at the site are evacuating people using hydraulic platforms in the city's Bandra area.

Television images showed people breaking window panes and waving to fire officers to evacuate them. No casualties were immediately reported.

A woman rescued by fire services told the New Delhi Television news channel that 30 to 40 people were waiting to be evacuated from the building, with the third and fourth floors filled with smoke.

Fires are common in India, where building laws and safety norms are often flouted by builders and residents.


UK PM Boris Johnson locks down England as COVID-19 cases pass 1 million

Updated 31 October 2020

UK PM Boris Johnson locks down England as COVID-19 cases pass 1 million

  • Lockdown starts just after midnight on Thursday morning
  • United Kingdom has the biggest official death toll in Europe from COVID-19

LONDON: Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered England back into a national lockdown after the United Kingdom passed the milestone of one million COVID-19 cases and a second wave of infections threatened to overwhelm the health service.
The United Kingdom, which has the biggest official death toll in Europe from COVID-19, is grappling with more than 20,000 new coronavirus cases a day and scientists have warned the “worst case” scenario of 80,000 dead could be exceeded.
Johnson, at a hastily convened news conference in Downing Street after news of a lockdown leaked to local media, said that the one-month lockdown across England would kick in at a minute past midnight on Thursday morning and last until Dec. 2.
In some of the most onerous restrictions in Britain’s peacetime history, people will only be allowed to leave home for specific reasons such as education, work, exercise, shopping for essentials and medicines or caring for the vulnerable.
“Now is the time to take action because there is no alternative,” Johnson said, flanked by his chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, and his chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance.
The government will revive its emergency coronavirus wage subsidy scheme to ensure workers who are temporarily laid off during a new England-wide lockdown receive 80% of their pay.
Essential shops, schools, and universities will remain open, Johnson said. Pubs and restaurants will be shut apart from for takeaways. All non-essential retail will close.
Johnson’s imposition of stricter curbs came after scientists warned the outbreak was going in the wrong direction and that action was needed to halt the spread of the virus if families were to have any hope of gathering at Christmas.
Johnson was criticized by political opponents for moving too slowly into the first national lockdown, which stretched from March 23 to July 4. He fell ill with COVID in late March and was hospitalized in early April.
The measures bring England into alignment with France and Germany by imposing nationwide restrictions almost as severe as the ones that drove the global economy this year into its deepest recession in generations.
So far the United Kingdom has reported 46,555 COVID-19 deaths — defined as those dying within 28 days of a positive test. A broader death measure of those with COVID-19 on their death certificates gives the toll as 58,925.
The United Kingdom has the world’s fifth largest official death toll, after the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.