Three govt agencies launch probe in Serum Institute fire causing Rs 1000 cr losses

"The supply of COVID-19 vaccine will not be affected due to the fire. No actual vaccine was being made at that facility. We were lucky that the incident happened in a different building. The extent of the financial damage is more than Rs 1,000 crores," Poonawalla said while addressing a press conference.


Pune:

Top officials from fire wings of three Maharashtra government agencies on Friday launched a probe to ascertain the cause of the blaze that killed five workers at Serum Institute of India's premises here. Heads of fire departments of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority (PMRDA) and Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) are part of the joint probe team.

Five contractual labourers had died in the fire which broke out in a five-storeyed under-construction building in the Serum Institute of India's Manjari premises on Thursday. The fire damaged the top two floors of the building located in 'SEZ 3' area of the premises of the vaccine major.

 Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla said its manufacturing plant at Manjari here suffered a loss of over Rs 1,000 crore in Thursday’s fire that claimed five lives.

"The supply of COVID-19 vaccine will not be affected due to the fire. No actual vaccine was being made at that facility. We were lucky that the incident happened in a different building. The extent of the financial damage is more than Rs 1,000 crores," Poonawalla said while addressing a press conference.

Poonawalla said, “We have got multiple facilities. The fire did not affect the supply of the Covid vaccine. Our other productions, such as the BCG vaccine, suffered a loss. We will make up for the supply gap. We have suffered huge financial losses. But there is no supply loss.”

“After the fire broke, we had initially received a report that all workers have been rescued. We tweeted the information because we were happy. After the fire was doused and the fumes dissipated, we got to know that five workers had died. We did not have the list of workers at the building. We later got an update and have offered our condolences to the victims’ families. My father has announced compensation (Rs25 lakh each) for the victims’ family members,” he added.

SII CMD and Adar’s father Cyrus Poonawalla said, “There was no production at the building. The production was yet to start. The fire did not cause damage to other buildings in the special economic zone.”

Devendra Potphode, Chief Fire Officer, PMRDA, said officials from the planning and development authority, PMC, and MIDC have come together to ascertain the cause of the fire in the building.

Meanwhile, police have registered an accidental death and burning incident case with the Hadapsar police station, said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone 5) Namrata Patil.

"As we are seeing today, the entire floor (4th and 5th) has been damaged. We are trying to ascertain the cause of the fire as well as how the fire spread," said Potphode.

Several types of equipment were damaged in the blaze, he said.

"On the basis of findings from all the agencies, a conclusion will be reached on how the fire started," he added.

The PMRDA officer declined to speculate on possible causes of the fire at this juncture.

Santosh Warrick, Chief Fire Officer, MIDC, also said it is difficult to comment on the cause right now.

"We have started the probe. Our scope of investigation is to check how the fire broke out," said Prashant Ranpise, PMC's fire department head.

A team of forensic experts reached the spot and conducting their probe, said another official.

The Manjari facility is where Covishield, the SII vaccine against Covid-19, which is being used in the nationwide inoculation drive against the infection, is made.

The building where fire broke out is one km from the Covishield vaccine manufacturing unit.


Comments