Delhi Mundka Fire: Death Toll Likely To Rise As More Charred Remains Found, 29 Still Missing

Officials have so far confirmed 27 deaths. DNA tests would be carried out to identify body remains.

Fire-fighting operations at Mundka, Delhi

As many as 29 people continue to be unaccounted for in the massive fire in Delhi's Mundka on Friday in which 27 people have been confirmed to have so far died. 

The fire deparment has said that the death toll could rise to 30 as charred human remains were found in the building during cooling operations on Saturday morning. Twelve injured are admitted in a Delhi hospital.

Chief Fire Officer Atul Garg said it was difficult to ascertain whether the remains found on Saturday morning were of one person or more.

He added that it is suspected that an explosion in an AC may have triggered the fire. The fire department said the four-storey building, which did not have a fire safety certificate, had a single entry and exit point.

"The building had a single escape route which is why there were so many casualties. Twenty-seven people have died," said Garg.

Brothers Harish and Varun Goel, owners of a CCTV camera and router manufacturing and assembling company, in whose office the fire is suspected to have started, have been arrested, said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Outer) Sameer Sharma.

An FIR has been registered against them under Indian Penal Code sections 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide), 120 (concealing design to commit offence punishable with imprisonment) and 34 (common intention), as per DCP Sharma. 

He added that all the floors of the building were being used by the same company. The building's owner, Manish Lakra, has also been booked, said the police.

Only seven of the 27 deceased have so far been identidied, said DCP Sharma. As for the injured, 11 out of 12 have been identified. 

Charred human remains have also been found, so possibly a forensic DNA examination would be carried out to ascertain the identity of the deceased, according to Deepa Verma, Director of the Forensic Science Laboratory, Rohini. She added that two teams including senior experts are working at the spot.

"They will collect samples for the purpose of identification and collection," she said, adding that these will be handed over to the investigating officer.

Charred human remains have also been found, so possibly a forensic DNA examination would be carried out to ascertain the identity of the deceased, said Verma.

SK Gupta, head of crime scene, said body remains at fire sites are very difficult to detect, collect and handle.

"Burned exhibits like body tissues at the scene are often modified to a similar appearance. Bones, in particular, become discoloured, brittle, and highly fragmented," Gupta said.

Assistant Public Relations Officer, FSL, Rajnish Singh said the examination of the entire spot will take time as it is a large area.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia visited the spot on Saturday. The chief minister announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh each for the kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for those injured in the fire, which started from the first floor of the building.

Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal said he was "deeply pained" by the loss of lives in the tragedy, and called for immediate steps to prevent such incidents in the future. He also extended his condolences to the bereaved families.

(With PTI inputs)