New Delhi: Bihar native Wajid Ali sank down to the floor in front of the mortuary at a city hospital after seeing the body of his young cousin and learning that his two brothers are untraceable after the massive blaze in north Delhi's Anaj Mandi area on Sunday that has left over 40 people dead.
Ali, in his 20s, said he works in a bag-making unit in the same area. He woke up to the sad news and rushed from one hospital to another looking for his family members, only to find his cousin's body at the Lady Hardinge Medical College and Hospital (LHMC),
Ten victims were brought to the hospital in central Delhi, nine of them dead and one survivor who is admitted in the ICU. As many as 34 people were brought dead at LNJP Hospital, where 15 injured were admitted. Most of the victims were labourers, doctors said.
At LHMC Hospital, fellow villagers and acquaintances were frantically looking for 14-year-old Mohammed Sahmat and 13-year-old Mohamed Mahbub, who were present in the factory during the fire.
Mohammed Arman, who work at a furniture factory in Mayapuri, was showing hospital authorities the picture of Mahbub and Sahmat, only to later realise Mahbub was among those brought dead at the hospital.
Mahbub's uncle Mohammed Hakim, who is a rickshaw puller and lives in Hari Nagar, was left in despair as he saw the body of his nephew with burn injuries in the mortuary.
"If Allah is merciful, we will find Sahmat," Arman said, still nursing hope of finding the teenager alive.
Wails of inconsolable family members filled the air in the morgue. Wajid Ali, who hails from Samastipur, nearly fainted after emerging from the room.
"My cousin Mohammed Atamul, who is about 18 years old, I saw his body. And, my two brothers — Sajid (23) and Wazir (17) are untraceable," a despondent Wajid said, as his family members tried to comfort him.
He said his parents live in Samastipur and "I cannot find courage to inform them about my brothers". He also has a sister.
Haqim, who arrived at LHMC Hospital in the afternoon, said he searched for Mahbub for hours at the LNJP Hospital in vain.
"I went there after I learned about the fire, but we were not allowed to go inside the hospital. I then came here (LHMC Hospital) and learnt that he perished in the fire. I am shattered," a tearful Haqim told reporters.
The incident that claimed 43 live and left 16 injured brought back tragic memories of the Uphaar cinema hall blaze in 1997.
"This is perhaps the biggest tragedy of this nature after the Uphaar mishap," Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri told reporters at the LHMC Hospital. He met the victims' families at the two hospitals after visiting the accident site.
The massive blaze ripped through the four-storey building housing "illegal" manufacturing units in congested Anaj Mandi area in Filmistan locality.
Police and fire department officials said most of the fatalities occurred due to suffocation as many people were sleeping when the fire started around 5 am on the second floor of the building that did not have fire safety clearance.
Nearly 150 firefighters worked to rescue 63 people from the building that has been left heavily damaged by the blaze.