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2 die in fire at 7-story building in Mumbai

Associated Press

MUMBAI, India (AP) – Thousands of employees were evacuated Thursday from a seven-story government building as more than two dozen fire engines battled a major blaze that raged for several hours in India’s financial and entertainment capital.

Rescuers pulled two bodies from the gutted sixth floor of the Maharashtra state government headquarters in southern Mumbai, a state government official said on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to talk to reporters.

Earlier, T. P. Lahane, dean of the state-run J.J. Hospital in southern Mumbai, said 14 people were injured, and 10 of them were hospitalized. He also said one person was in critical condition.

Television images showed some people being taken on stretchers as the blaze and the billowing smoke engulfed from the fourth floor upward. A strong sea breeze fanned the fire, which could be seen for kilometers (miles).

Firefighters used hydraulic platforms to evacuate trapped people, and two navy helicopters hovered over the building to pick up people from the rooftop.

Prithviraj Chavan, the state’s top elected official, said he had asked police to investigate the cause of the fire which devastated three floors of the building.

Some witnesses complained that the firefighters took almost half an hour to reach the site.

The New Delhi Television News channel said nearly 2,500 state employees and 2,000 visitors were in the building when the fire broke out.

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