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Serum Institute in India: Blaze kills 5 at facility of world’s largest vaccine maker



A fire at the Indian Serum Indian Serum Institute in the western city of Pune was contained on Thursday, although the cause is still being investigated, according to the city’s mayor, Merlidhar Mohol.

Four people were rescued from the six-story building, but five others died, Mohol said. They are believed to have been construction workers, as the building was still under construction at the time of the fire.

Videos and images showed black smoke coming out of the building in the company’s complex. Fifteen units from the municipal corporation and the fire department worked to put out the blaze, Mohol said.

Preliminary investigations suggest that “during the construction of the building, some welding work could have led to a fire,”

; he added.

Pune fire chief Prashant Ranpize said on Friday that the fire started on the second floor. While firefighters worked to put out the flames, the fire reigned elsewhere. The second fire was extinguished at 4:15 p.m. Local time by 50 firefighters and staff. Ranpise said they were still investigating the cause of the fire.

“We have learned that there has been some loss of life in the accident. We are deeply saddened and express our deepest condolences to the family members of the deceased,” SII CEO Adar Poonavala said on Thursday.

SII, the world’s largest vaccine maker, has partnered with Oxford University and AstraZeneca to produce the Covishield vaccine. In December, the company said it produced 50 to 60 million doses of Covishield per month, with production expected to increase to 100 million doses in January or February.
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A family business started by Poonawalla’s father 50 years ago to bring cheaper vaccines to the masses, the Serum Institute of India seeks to produce hundreds of millions of coronavirus vaccines not only for India but also for other developing countries.

In a tweet, Poonawalla said that despite the “destruction of several floors”, the production of the Covishield vaccine will not be affected.

“I would like to reassure all governments and the public that there will be no loss of COVISHIELD production due to the many production buildings that I have kept in reserve to deal with such contingencies,” he said.

Cyrus S. Poonavala, chairman and managing director of SII, said in a statement that the fire broke out in a facility that was tightened in the Special Economic Zone in Manjiri. He said it was an “extremely painful day” and the company would offer INR 2.5 million ($ 34,000) to each of the victims’ families.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote her condolences on Saturday: “Nervous at the loss of lives due to an unfortunate fire … At this sad hour, my thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives. I pray that the wounded will recover. in the earliest. “




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