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CM orders probe, announces relief 

LUDHIANA: The death toll in the factory building collapse reached 13 this evening, even as Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh visited the spot and ordered an inquiry by the Patiala Divisional Commissioner. 

 He also announced compensation for the families of the deceased.

A search operation was still in progress as several persons were said to be trapped under the debris at the polybag manufacturing factory in Mustaq Ganj. The rescue team found the severed head of a senior fire officer, Rajinder Sharma (55). Two injured men, identified as Rohit Kumar and Sunil Kumar, are undergoing treatment at the CMC Hospital here. Firemen Manpreet Singh and Sukhdev Singh and leading fireman Manohar Lal are yet to be traced.

The CM directed the district authorities to speed up rescue and relief operations. He was accompanied by Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu and PPCC president and Gurdaspur MP Sunil Jakhar.

The inquiry will ascertain whether there were violations of construction laws and norms to store chemicals by the factory owner. The CM said strict action would be taken against any officer found guilty of dereliction of duty or any lapse that led to the mishap.

The families of four firemen and a sanitary inspector who died in the tragedy will be given Rs10 lakh ex gratia each, with the state government and the Municipal Corporation contributing 50 per cent each, besides one job per family on compassionate grounds. The kin of civilians who lost their lives will get Rs2 lakh each as ex gratia.

The Chief Minister said the Directorate of Fire Services would check unauthorised buildings and those flouting fire safety norms, adding that adequate equipment for fire stations would be made available under the directorate, to be headed by an IPS officer.

An official of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) said burnt bodies were recovered today as the fire inside the rubble was yet to be doused. “The chances of survival of the trapped persons are bleak, but we are on the job,” he added.

When asked if more teams were being requisitioned from the state or the Centre to intensify rescue operations, Deputy Commissioner Pardeep Agrawal said there was no need to do so as there was not much manual work left. “JCB machines are clearing the debris, so we are planning to give a breather to the rescue team,” he added.

Meanwhile, Dalit leader Laxman Dravid, who died in the building collapse, was cremated today.

The deceased 

Sandeep Sharma (32), Ghanaiya (39) and Amarjot (25), computer designers in the factory; Vishal (35), Rajan (45) and Pooran Singh (50), firemen; Laxman Das Dravid (53), sanitary officer; Inderpal Singh (55), taxi union president; Shamoun Gill (53) and Raj Kumar (47), sub fire officers; Baldev Raj (55), factory manager; Dhan Bahadur (52), watchman; and Rajinder Sharma (55), senior fire officer.

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