Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said that the fire at the Serum Institute of India campus on January 21 was no foul play. He said that the blaze was due to a short circuit. The fire at Adar Poonawalla-led Serum Institute led to the death of five people.
A major fire engulfed the fourth and fifth floors of an under-construction building at Serum Institute's 100-acre Manjari campus in the SEZ area in Pune. The five workers who were killed were carrying out welding and air-conditioning work at the building. Rescue operations involved 10 firefighters and over 70 personnel, including from the National Disaster Response Force.
The fire at Serum Institute did not affect the production of the coronavirus vaccine, Covishield.
The blaze reportedly gutted furniture, wiring and cabins on the fourth and fifth floor as well as on the sixth floor. CEO Poonawalla pegged the overall losses at Rs 1,000 crore. "Mainly loss is financial, which is over Rs 1,000 crore. Our new production line has been affected, not covid vaccines. Loss is to the bulk area and production filling line. No actual vaccine was being made where the fire took place. Loss is for the future manufacturing," he told media.
Soon after news of the loss of lives emerged, Poonawalla said, "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."
Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray also visited the facility after the incident and said, "Covid vaccine is a ray of hope for the entire world. After hearing about the fire at the Serum facility, we all missed a heartbeat for a fraction of a second. After visiting the institute, I can assure you that vaccine manufacturing unit is not affected. It's unfortunate that five people lost their lives."