Rajan (41) and some of her coworkers knew the only way they’d escape the blaze was by breaking a wall. After a desperate, sustained effort, some workers managed to break a part of the wall and run away, even as the fire engulfed seven of their co-workers and injured many others.
“It was literally a matter of seconds. There was a large flame which engulfed people who were around it, killing them instantly. We were on the other side and were stuck next to a wall. We somehow broke it and escaped. Had we been stuck there any longer, anything could have happened,” said Rajan.
The factory employed 40-50 people who were paid approximately Rs 5,000 a month for stuffing and packaging candles.
Amid the lockdown, many workers had flocked to the factory for any chance of getting work. Among them was 21-year-old Chinki.
“She started working a few days back. All of us have been feeling the pinch of job loss since we are daily wagers. Chinki thought her family would benefit from the extra income. She would work eight hours and we were told it was safe. By the time we reached, her body was charred,” said Pawan, a relative.
The families of the dead said they never knew the job came with such a risk. “They were clearly using some kind of an explosive substance. Such facilities employ many women and children. I lost my mother in the fire. The factory owner and the people who helped him run this need to be arrested,” said Deepak, whose mother Baby (41) succumbed to the burn injuries.
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