Pune: In two massive fire incidents reported from Serum Institute of India (SII) at Hadapsar in the Pune city, five labourers were charred to death in the fifth floor of a building on Thursday afternoon.

The five deceased were contractual labourers- two hailing from Uttar Pradesh, two from Pune district and one from Bihar. According to reports, four others were evacuated from the building when the first blaze, which was apparently caused by an electrical fault, erupted around 2 p.m.

A second, relatively a minor blaze, occurred at 7 pm on the third floor of the same building. Both fires have been brought under control, said fire department authorities.

The blaze, however, did not damage the COVID vaccine manufacturing facility of the institute, reports said.

The incident at the vaccine manufacturing plant was confirmed by Adar Poonawalla, SII’s owner and chief executive officer.

“The COVID vaccine manufacturing unit remained safe and it is the Rotavirus manufacturing facility at the plant which has caught the fire,” he said. Rotaviruses are the most common cause of diarrhoeal disease among infants and young children.

“Luckily, the COVID vaccine manufacturing unit remained safe and out of the fire ambit. But still, very sad because the fire will disrupt the rotavirus vaccine supply by about 30% to 40%. Nobody is hurt which is more important,” he was quoted saying in a ToI report.

Meanwhile, Cyrus S. Poonawalla, Chairman and Managing Director, SII, said the institute would offer compensation of Rs 25 lakh to each of the families of the deceased, in addition to the mandated amount as per the norms.

“Today is an extremely sorrowful day for all of us at Serum Institute of India. Regrettably, there were losses of lives in the fire that broke out in our under- installation facility situated at the Special Economic Zone at Manjri. We are deeply saddened and offer our condolences to the families of the departed. In this regard, We would like to extend our gratitude to everyone for their concerns and prayers in these distressing times,” said Cyrus Poonawalla, in a statement.

Adar Poonawalla tweeted: “We have just received some distressing updates; upon further investigation, we have learnt that there has unfortunately been some loss of life at the incident. We are deeply saddened and offer our deepest condolences to the family members of the departed.”


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