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Factory fire in India kills at least 43 workers sleeping inside

Posted: 5:32 AM, Dec 08, 2019
Updated: 2019-12-08 05:33:54-05
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BY SWATI GUPTA AND VEDIKA SUD, CNN (CNN) — At least 43 people have died in a major blaze that broke out in a factory in India's capital New Delhi, police and fire department officials told CNN.

The fire swept through the five-story building in the early hours of Sunday, as laborers and factory workers were asleep inside. Some died due to asphyxiation, officials said.

"The problem was the smoke -- all the windows and doors were shut and there was dense smoke inside," said Sunil Choudhary, deputy chief fire officer.

"No one could get out. There was an iron door and it was locked and people were brought out only after we broke the door open. It had become a toxic chamber."

Avtar Singh, an assistant division officer for the fire department, said that more than 60 people had been evacuated from the building and the injured were transported to three local hospitals.

Fire officials said they had struggled to reach the factory in the city's old quarter, a tangle of narrow, busy lanes lined with manufacturing units.

Thirty fire engines were stationed near the site, but only one managed to get to the building and extinguish the blaze through a relay system, Singh said.

The fire, which officials say was sparked by an electrical fault at around 5:30 a.m., took almost three hours to put out.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the fire was "extremely horrific" in a statement on Twitter .

"My thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones," Modi said. "Wishing the injured a quick recovery. Authorities are providing all possible assistance at the site of the tragedy."

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