Five persons have died in a fire which broke out at Pune's Serum Institute of India (SII) on Thursday, said Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope.
Meanwhile, SII CEO Adar Poonawala offered condolences to the family members of the deceased. "We have just received some distressing updates; upon further investigation we have learnt that there has unfortunately been some loss of life at the incident. We are deeply saddened and offer our deepest condolences to the family members of the departed," tweeted Poonawala.
Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) Mayor Murlidhar Mohol said the five people who died were the workers at the under-construction building. "The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained but it is being speculated that welding, that was going on at the building, caused the fire," he added.
Besides, nine persons were evacuated from the building in SII's Manjari premises after the fire broke out, police said.
There would be no loss of Covishield production due to the fire, Poonawalla said.
The Manjari facility is where the Covishield vaccine used in the nationwide inoculation drive against the pandemic is made. The building where the fire broke out is part of the under-construction site of the Serum facility and is one km from the Covishield manufacturing unit, reported PTI.
"Thank you everyone for your concern and prayers. So far the most important thing is that there have been no lives lost or major injuries due to the fire, despite a few floors being destroyed," Poonawalla 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," he added.
Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said the state government has ordered a probe into the fire.
The fire, which broke out at 2.45 pm on the fourth and fifth floors of the SEZ 3 building in the Serum Institute premises, was brought under control in two hours, police said.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Namrata Patil told PTI that nine people were evacuated from the spot after the fire broke out.
"I have taken information from the Pune Municipal Corporation about the incident and an instruction has been given to carry out a detailed probe into the incident," Ajit Pawar said.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has asked the state machinery to ensure that the fire is brought under control, his office tweeted. He is in touch with the Pune Municipal Commissioner, the CMO added.
(With PTI inputs)