In what the police suspect to be a sabotage attempt and willful mischief,a section of the import side of the Cargo Terminal of Indira Gandhi International Airport was gutted in a late night fire.
There was no reported damage to life or cargo goods,but it took 34 fire tenders more than four hours to douse the blaze that completely destroyed airlines offices on the first floor,police said.
According to airport operator Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL),the fire started at 1.05 am on Thursday at one of the airlines office.
Delhi Police has registered a case of arson against unknown persons. The sabotage angle cannot be ruled,due to the proximity of the cargo terminal to the ATC tower and Terminal 3 of the airport, a senior officer said.
The exact cause of the fire is yet to ascertained,police said. The investigators,meanwhile,are cautious,given the high threat perception at IGI Airport.
The portion of the terminal that caught fire is handled by Turkish company,Çelebi Ground Handling.
A source said the fire started at Çelebis HR and finance office and destroyed offices of at least 12 airlines,including Thai Cargo,Aeroflot Cargo,Gulf Air,Philippines,Air Arabia,Royal Jordanian,and Air India. These are located between pillars A53-A63.
The affected area has been declared out of bounds by the Fire department. Detailed investigations will be conducted into the incident, said a spokesperson for DIAL.
The Delhi Fire Services no objection certificate for the premises has been suspended after the fire as per standard procedure. It would be reissued after all the systems are thoroughly inspected and a final report prepared, said A K Sharma,DFS chief.
A senior official said there was no damage to the export side of the terminal. The cargo movement has slowed down as all the wiring was lost in the fire. The entire work of the Customs department and other agencies is now being done manually, he said.
The exact cost of damage would be ascertained after an inquiry,the official said. All records have been lost to the fire, he said.
A joint statement issued by DIAL and Çelebi said: Export operations were suspended for around half an hour as a precautionary measure and have been normal,thereafter.