Five killed in Serum Institute fire in Pune

Migrant labourers fixing air-conditioning among the dead


At least five people were killed when a fire broke out in the upper floors of a newly constructed building on the Serum Institute of India campus in Pune on Thursday. The dead have been identified as Bipin Saroj, Rama Shankar, Sushil Kumar Pande, Mahendra Ingle and Pratik Pashte.

While Saroj and Shankar were migrant workers from Uttar Pradesh, Pande hailed from Bihar. Ingle and Pashte, were both residents of Pune district. Saroj’s co-worker expressed gratitude to him for raising and alarm to help them escape, even though he perished in the fire. His brother Avinash told Indian Express that they noticed smoke while doing AC insulation work on the fourth floor, and that they could hardly see anything as the smoke was dense.

Police and fire brigade officials said that the presence of flammable materials like PVC, plastic and plywood at the location added as kindling to the flames.

SII issued a statement saying, “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 will be offering a compensation of INR 25 lakhs to each of the families, in addition to the mandated amount as per the norms.”

SII is a key player in India’s Covid vaccine program. The SII is manufacturing the Covishield vaccine in India. This vaccine was developed by the Oxford University in association with pharma major Astra Zeneca. The vaccine was granted approval for use across different countries including India, where a vaccination drive targeting frontline workers and healthcare professionals started on January 16.

CEO Adar Poonawal assured that the fire will not impact vaccine production. He tweeted, “I would like to reassure all governments & the public that there would be no loss of #COVISHIELD production due to multiple production buildings that I had kept in reserve to deal with such contingencies at @SerumInstIndia . Thank you very much @PuneCityPolice  & Fire Department.”


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