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Arrested manager blames owner for changes that led to Mumbai deadly fire


Changes that led to the fatal fire already existed at time of lease says arrested manager.

Mumbai police have arrested Sharad Tripathi manager of the City Kinara restaurant after he was discharged from a local hospital. Tripathi has reportedly told police that he did not make any illegal alterations on the mezzanine floor and blamed owner Sudish Hegde for the structural changes.

During preliminary inquiries, Tripathi is believed to have told police that he ran away after he saw the fire on the first floor. He said he wanted to switch off the main but could not reach it. He said when he heard cries from the first floor he tried going up but then the ceiling fell down and he fled as he too got injured. “He said his blood pressure shot up and he thought he may get a heart attack, so he went to Kohinoor Hospital and tried to get himself admitted there but the doctors simply prescribed him some medicine. Later, he went to Holy Family Hospital where he was admitted,” said an investigating officer.

Tripathi will be produced before the Kurla metropolitan magistrate on Tuesday and is likely to seek bail, but families of some victims plan to oppose his bail plea.

Police are waiting to question Hegde, the restaurant’s owner. Tripathi said when he took the hotel on lease from Hegde five years ago, the mezzanine floor existed. He claimed he did not make any structural changes. “This confusion will be clarified when he is confronted with Hegde,” said DCP Mahesh Patil.

Police also want to question the four waiters, absconding since the incident, to learn about the condition of the restaurant. Tripathi has claimed that while fleeing, he lost his cell phone which had numbers of the waiters.

Police are also now waiting for reports from the fire brigade, forensic science laboratory and public work department’s electrical engineer, to determine the cause of the fire, said senior inspector Pravin More of Vinobha Bhave Nagar police station. Prima facie inquiries reveal gas was leaking from a commercial cylinder in a small kitchen on the illegal mezzanine floor, which spread inside the air-conditioned section where the eight victims were eating. “Due to the leakage, commercial gas, which is heavier than air, settled on the floor but the patrons may not have smelt it because of the food,” said an officer.

Source: Times of India

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