At least five workers were killed in the massive fire that broke out at a plant in Serum Institute of India, which is manufacturing the Covishield vaccine developed by the Oxford University and AstraZeneca. The blaze was reported at the Serum Institute's under-construction building in Pune on Thursday afternoon.
In his first reaction on the incident, Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of Serum Institute of India, says that he is currently only focused on rescuing people who might still be stuck inside the building.
"We are focusing on rescuing 1-2 people stuck in the building. I don't care about anything else at the moment. We are looking out to save our people first then we will assess the damage," he told India Today TV.
"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," he later tweeted.
"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 said in his latest tweet.
Poonawalla reassured all governments and the public that there would be no loss of Covishield production due to multiple production buildings that had been kept in reserve to deal with such contingencies.
The fire was reported at the Serum Institute's under-construction building in the Manjri area of the city. The SII plant is spread over 100 acres in Pune.
The Serum Institute of India is manufacturing the Covishield vaccine, which is one of the two COVID-19 vaccines that have been granted emergency use approval in India.