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Toll in Hyderabad fire tragedy rises to 10, building owner held

The death toll in the November 13 fire accident in an apartment complex in Hyderabad has gone up to 10 while the police have arrested the owner of the building. Nampally police arrested Ramesh Kuma Jaiswal, owner of Balaji Residency at Bazarghat, nearly a week after the disaster, which claimed the lives of the families residing in the flats on rent.

The chemical drums kept in the stilt floor of the four-storey building had caught fire which resulted in the horrific tragedy. Police have registered a case under Indian Penal Code (IPC) section 304 (II) (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 285 (Negligent conduct with respect to fire or combustible matter), 286 (Negligent conduct with respect to explosive substance) and section 9B (1) (b) of Explosives Act.

Police said they registered a case on a complaint by Mohd. Ahmed, a resident of the same building. According to the complainant, around 0920 hours he heard screams of ‘Bahar ajao’ and noticed that one car kept in the in-front of Balaji Residency was on fire. After a few minutes, the resin drums burst, and resin spread due to which there was thick smoke and flames rose to a high level.

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He too shouted loudly and the family residing on the first floor came out. As the flames rose further, other people could not come out. The Fire Brigade rushed to the spot and controlled the flames. The fire department staff went inside and found nine persons residing on the second and third floors expired due to burns and suffocation.

The death toll mounted to 10 on Saturday when Talha Nasar (17), a student, succumbed to injuries at a hospital. According to Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central Zone) M. Venkateshwarlu police, the accused is doing wholesale and retail business by purchasing resin. He used to get the material from distributors and supply it to his customers the next day. Most of the loads come at night, and the accused was storing the load on the stilt floor of Balaji Residency which was used as a warehouse by him.

Several times the inmates had insisted the accused not store the resin drums and cans in the stilt but he did not mend. For his own convenience, the accused always stored the flammable resin drums and cans on the stilts of the building illegally, knowing that the chemical material was jeopardizing the lives of the inmates, the police official said.

On the evening of November 11, the accused received 32 cans of 35 kg each, containing resin chemical and stored in the stilt floor. On November 13, a massive fire started from the south side of the building where the accused had dumped loads of resin cans.

During the investigation, 30 Drums and 88 cans of resin chemicals, which were stored in the building, were also seized and samples were sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) for chemical examination. Two DVRs from the building were also seized and sent to FSL for data retrieval.

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