Delhi Hearth: Forensic Crew Collects Samples from Shoe Godown as 6 Staff Lacking

A forensic team on Friday collected charred human remains from a two-storey building in west Delhi’s Udyog Vihar where a massive fire broke out four days ago, police said. Six workers of a shoe godown located in the building are still missing. The search operation will continue till all areas of the building have been scanned, they said.

Police also said they are conducting raids to nab the godown’s owner, Pankaj Garg, who has been on the run since the day of the incident. The fire broke out in the building, where shoes were assembled and packed for sale, on Monday and 35 fire tenders and around 140 firefighters were pressed into service to douse the blaze.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Outer) Parvinder Singh said, “One set of human remains has been collected from the second floor of the building by Forensic Science Laboratory experts. No identification is possible. The remains have been sent to a mortuary for preliminary autopsy, pending further investigation.” The search operation inside the building will continue till all areas have been scanned, he said.

Director of Forensic Science Laboratory, Rohini, Deepa Verma said, “Two forensic teams have been deployed at this site for finding and collecting biological evidence. We have been informed that six people were trapped in the fire and they are still missing.”

“From the forensic point of view, individual identification is a very challenging task in case of a fire, especially when the body is highly decomposed or dismembered to deliberately conceal the identity of the individual. In such cases, various techniques of forensic biology are employed to identify individuals through bones or body parts.

“In the current scenario, our forensic experts are involved in searching the body/skeletal remains at this scene of the fire,” she said. Crime scene examination in-charge, FSL, Sanjeev Gupta said it is typically difficult to detect human remains and collect samples at fire scenes.

“All of the burned material at the scene, including biological tissue, often ends up looking similar. Bones become discoloured, brittle and highly fragmented. As a consequence, these remains are often disturbed, altered, or even destroyed during scene processing with the existing protocols,” he said.

Delhi Fire Service Director Atul Garg said, “We are making all efforts. Although it is now dangerous to enter the building because of the heat and some of its portions have already collapsed, our priority is to search for the remains.” The sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) of Punjabi Bagh held a meeting on Thursday to discuss the further course of action to search for the missing workers, officials said.

The SDM sought suggestions from the concerned departments, especially the National Disaster Response Force, the Delhi Fire Service, the municipal corporation and the Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation and police, regarding the extraction of the bodies, they said. During the meeting, the civic authorities said the building may collapse at any time as cracks have appeared in its beams. They suggested that stepwise demolition be carried out, the officials said.

They further suggested that the building should be demolished gradually and the debris lifted from the site simultaneously. Police had said on Monday that four godown workers were rescued safely from the building.

It is suspected that the fire started from the first floor of the building and later spread to the other floors, they had said.

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