Hyderabad, Jan 31 (IANS) A major fire broke out in All India Industrial Exhibition here on Wednesday night, reducing over 150 stalls to ashes. There was no loss of life but traders suffered huge financial loss, officials said.
According to eye-witnesses, few people sustained minor injuries in a mild stampede after the fire broke out after 9 p.m. from a stall, reportedly due to short-circuit. Two persons who took ill were taken to a nearby hospital.
Thousands of people including women and children, who were present in the sprawling Exhibition Ground in Nampally in the heart of the city, ran out in panic.
Telangana Home Minister Mahmood Ali, who visited the accident site, told reporters that the situation was brought under control by fire services department, police and other departments.
Hyderabad Mayor B. Rammohan said 12 fire tenders and an equal number of water tankers battled the flames for over one hour to bring them under control.
Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) Commissioner Dana Kishore, who was supervising rescue and relief operations, said all people were evacuated safely. He said no one was injured.
Over 30,000 people were present in the annual exhibition at the time of the fire accident.
Police diverted vehicular traffic on the roads surrounding the Exhibition Ground. Hyderabad Metro announced free travel and operated five additional trains from the nearby station to clear the rush.
Traders alleged that the authorities failed to act quickly resulted in huge losses to them.
A trader said he lost goods worth Rs 2 crore while another said he suffered a loss of Rs 6 lakh. They said only one fire engine was stationed at the venue and it proved inadequate to douse the fire immediately.
The traders vented their ire over the officials for not taking precautionary measures. One of them said there was hardly any water in the fire engine stationed there and the personnel failed to act on time.
Shocked over the huge loss, some traders broke down. Others demanded compensation from the government.
Mahmood Ali assured the traders that the government would extend them all possible help. He denied that the fire services department failed to act promptly to control the fire. He also said an inquiry would be ordered into the fire accident.
All India Industrial Exhibition Society President and former minister E. Rajender said there was no need for panic as the situation was completely brought under control. He asked the society secretary to conduct the investigation.
The 78th All India Industrial Exhibition was inaugurated on January 1 and had over 2,500 stalls. Popular as ‘Numaish’, the annual event started in 1938 during the Nizam era to promote locally made goods.
Traders from various states set up their stalls in the annual exhibition, which continues for 45 days. Thousands of people throng the sprawling Exhibition Ground in the heart of the city every evening for shopping and amusement rides.
Considered as mother of all carnivals, ‘Numaish’ is an integral part of Hyderabad’s rich culture.
Every day, 40,000 to 50,000 people visit ‘Numaish’. The numbers reach one lakh on week-ends and holidays.