At least five were killed, four were evacuated in the massive fire that broke out at vaccine-maker Serum Institute of India (SII) in Maharashtra’s Pune facility on Thursday. The deaths were confirmed by the Pune Mayor Murlidhar Mohol after three hours of the fire engulfed in the vaccine production unit.
Mayor Murlidhar Mohol said, “The five people who died were perhaps the workers at the under-construction building. The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained but it is being speculated that welding, that was going on at the building, caused the fire.”
The five people who died, were perhaps the workers at the under-construction building. The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained but it is being speculated that welding, that was going on at the building, caused the fire: Pune Mayor Murlidhar Mohol#SerumInstituteofIndia https://t.co/KmSngS3TI6
— ANI (@ANI) January 21, 2021
The fire is unlikely to hit the production of millions of Covishield vaccines that are being manufactured by the SII in partnership with the Oxford University and British-Swedish pharma firm AstraZeneca.
According to an officer after the fire report, a total 10 fire tenders were rushed to SII. It’s been also reported that one team of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has also been rushed to control the fire that broke out around 2.45 pm.
The fire broke out at Terminal 1 gate and the fire continues to rage at the fourth and fifth floors of SEZ3 building inside Terminal Gate 1. The site where the fire broke out, is an under-construction building at SII. The vaccine and vaccine manufacturing plant are safe.
As per a close source to the development, “Fire in the Serum Institute of India has happened at the Manjari plant. It is not going to affect Covidshield vaccine production.”
Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray‘s office tweeted he is “in touch with the Pune Municipal Commissioner and is taking complete on-ground updates”. The statement further continued, “He has directed the state machinery to coordinate and ensure that the situation is under control.”
CM Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray is in touch with the Pune Municipal Commissioner and is taking complete on-ground updates. He has directed the state machinery to coordinate and ensure that the situation is under control. https://t.co/NlcVtf33TG
— CMO Maharashtra (@CMOMaharashtra) January 21, 2021
“Fire broke out at Manjari plant. Production wasn’t done there but the preparation was on to begin it at a later stage. Fire fighting op is on, the building has been vacated but we’re re-checking. Fire will be doused in an hour. No problem at vaccine plant/storage,” said Pune Police Commissioner.
Stating on the same the CEO and owner of the Serum Institute of India, Adar Poonawalla said he would like to reassure that there would be no loss of production of the Covishield vaccine.
Adar Poonawalla took to Twitter and wrote, “I would like to reassure all governments and the public that there would be no loss of Covishield production due to multiple production buildings that I had kept in reserve to deal with such contingencies at Serum Institute of India.”
I would like to reassure all governments & the public that there would be no loss of #COVISHIELD production due to multiple production buildings that I had kept in reserve to deal with such contingencies at @SerumInstIndia. Thank you very much @PuneCityPolice & Fire Department
— Adar Poonawalla (@adarpoonawalla) January 21, 2021
The cause of the fire at the Serum Institute plant is not yet known. More details are awaited.