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21 Jan, 2021 10:08

Five killed as fire breaks out at world's biggest vaccine manufacturer in India (VIDEO)

Five killed as fire breaks out at world's biggest vaccine manufacturer in India (VIDEO)

Five people have died after a fire broke out at a production facility belonging to the world's largest vaccine maker, the Serum Institute of India (SII). It said that Covid-19 vaccine production has not been impacted, however.

On Thursday afternoon, emergency services were called to an SII plant in Pune, after a fire broke out on the fifth floor.

Executive Director Suresh Jadhav confirmed that the facility in question is used for the production of a BCG vaccine – an inoculation used primarily against tuberculosis.

The SII is the world's largest vaccine manufacturer and is currently mass-producing AstraZeneca's Covid-19 jab, Covishield. However, Jadhav said that the facility where the Covishield vaccine is being manufactured is not located near the fire.

Mayor of Pune Murlidhar Mohol said a call had been received at 2.50pm local time (9:20am GMT) alerting the authorities to the fire. He said 10 fire engines and at least two extra tankers had been rushed to the incident.

Chief fire officer, PMC, Prashant Ranpise told reporters that individuals were still in the building and operations were underway to rescue them.

"There were four people inside the building. We have rescued three persons so far, although smoke is hampering the work. The fire has so far spread to the third, fourth and the fifth floors. We have sent 10 fire tenders so far," Ranpise told reporters.

It was later confirmed by Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope that five people had died in the blaze.

SII CEO Adar Poonawala offered his 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," he tweeted.

Poonawala confirmed that production of the Covishield vaccine had not been impacted.
Pune's mayor said the cause of the fire is still unknown.

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