My Letters - GULF NEWS Dt 24 February 2010 - Nine killed in blaze at Bangalore high-rise office complex
The deaths were caused either by choking in smoke or due to injuries suffered when some tried to jump from the seven-storey building, fire officials said.
Bangalore: Nine people died and around 50 were injured when fire broke out in a high-rise office complex in Bangalore on Tuesday. The deaths were caused either by choking in smoke or due to injuries suffered when some tried to jump from the seven-storey building, fire officials said.
"Nine - six men and three women - have died and around 50 are injured. The condition of seven injured is serious," D.G. Chengappa, director of fire services, told IANS.
The fire broke out in the fifth-floor office of an IT firm around 4 p.m., trapping several hundred people in the seven-storey Carlton Towers, an office and commercial complex on the busy old Airport Road in Bangalore's central business district.
Visuals caught on cell phones and telecast on TV channels showed a woman trying to jump to the sixth floor from the seventh, slipping and falling to the ground. Another showed a man jumping to the ground from the top floor.
It is feared they are among the nine dead.
Fire brigade officials said 16 fire tenders battled the fire for about an hour and all were evacuated after about two hours.
Inspector General of Police P.S. Sandhu told reporters at the site that the fire appeared to have started due to electrical short circuiting.
People broke open glass panes with bare hands and any other material they could lay hands on to let out the smoke.
Dozens of office-goers were seen coughing as they were caught in the smoke.
Rescue operations were hindered as hundreds of people gathered on the busy street restricting the free movement of fire brigade vehicles and fire personnel.
Sandhu said the narrow road and the evening hour traffic did cause a delay in fire tenders reaching the site of the blaze.
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My comments as follows:
I refer to the above news item. It was one of the most horrific scenes I have witnessed on TV in the recent times. While I offer my prayers to all the victims of yesterday's fire at Bangalore, I wish to highlight this serious presence of mind issue during a crisis to our readers. In Bangalore, psychologists say it as the fight or flight response and call it as the acute stress response when a normal person loses his sense of balance and presence of mind. Eyewitnesses report that neither could they save them nor stop them from jumping, which we all watched on TV helplessly and horrendously. This situation can happen to anyone in a stressful situation. Let us take it as an opportunity to educate necessary life skills training in educational institutions and organizations. It is true that all of us do not have the presence of mind to handle every situation. Necessary life saving skills and presence of mind techniques should be made available to general public through TV and press to act safely and spontaneously in case of a safety or security situation such as this one that took life of many in Bangalore.
A debate or a news feature informing such techniques are highly appreciated through your column at the earliest for the benefit of our readers.