A massive early morning fire has broken out in an upscale rooftop restaurant in Mumbai, India’s financial and entertainment capital, leaving at least 15 dead and a dozen injured.
The majority of those killed were women attending a birthday party at the 1 Above rooftop restaurant, officials said.
The 28-year-old woman celebrating her birthday was among those who died.
The 1:00am (local time) fire quickly spread from the restaurant through a four-storey building, according to fire official Balkrishna Kadam.
An artificial bamboo ceiling in the restaurant burned quickly and collapsed as people tried to escape the fire, the Times Now news channel reported.
Most people died of suffocation from the smoke, it said.
More than 50 people were taken to hospital, with 12 being treated for injuries that were not life threatening, a doctor said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent prayers to the injured.
“Anguished by the fire in Mumbai. My thoughts are with the bereaved families in this hour of grief,” he tweeted.
Mumbai gynecologist Sulbha Arora said she felt lucky to have survived the blaze.
She said “the whole place was engulfed in a matter of seconds”.
“There was a stampede and someone pushed me,” she tweeted.
“People were running over me even as the ceiling above me was collapsing in flames.
“Still don’t know how I got out alive.”
Eight fire engines battled the blaze for more than five hours, officials said.
Police have filed a case of culpable homicide against the owners and the manager of the restaurant. No arrests have been made.
The building, Kamala Mills, located in the formerly industrial area of central Mumbai, houses several upscale restaurants that had moved in over the past few years to make it a popular nightlife destination.
Several media outlets also use the compound for their offices and some national news channels were affected by the fire, including Bennett Coleman and Co’s Times Now and ET Now.