Fire survivors recall ordeal

Fire survivors recall ordeal

We did not pay heed at first as a fire had broken out last year also, says witness

Fire survivors recall ordeal

(Clockwise from top) 1. Rescue personnel help a woman get down from a multi-storey office building, where a major fire broke out, in Kolkata on Tuesday; 2. Office workers shout for help as they try to escape from the window; 3. People carry an injured person to hospital; 4. A man and a woman ask for help; and 5. Another hapless woman on the roof signals to people on the ground. PTI & AP

"I saw two desperate people, unable to bear the soaring heat and fumes, cling on to the edge of the balcony and then jump to their death from the sixth floor," said Rupa Ghosh, an eyewitness to the fire tragedy in Kolkata's Park Street, on Tuesday.

A 50-year-old employee of the OTS Transport Co, with its office on the second floor of Stephen Court, jumped one floor below when it seemed as if the fire would engulf her as well.

“I could hear the clattering of broken glasses in the upper floors. It seemed that the building would collapse. The fumes were choking. I found it difficult to breath,” she said.
“I jumped first on the roof of first floor shops. Then I screamed and cried pleading with the fire brigade to rescue me. But they did not. After a long wait, a ladder was provided and I came down,” she said.

The central Kolkata resident was lucky to escape unhurt. But a few of her colleagues were not. Manoj Ganguly, Shampa Chowdhury and Kajal Nath were in hospital with fractures in both their lower limbs. Some were injured in their arms.

“Around 1.15 pm we first sensed a burning smell. We did not pay heed at first as a fire had broken out last year also. Then when the stench increased, we came to the balcony and found the two top floors in flames,” Ghosh said at Kolkata’s SSKM Hospital where her colleagues were admitted.

Ghosh complained that the fire brigade arrived very late and said: “They only came at 2.30 pm without high ladders.”