Another fire breaks out at Serum Institute, Pune

ANI
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Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope talking to ANI on Thursday. (Photo/ANI)
Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope talking to ANI on Thursday. (Photo/ANI)

Pune (Maharashtra) [India], January 21 (ANI): Another fire broke out again in one of the compartments of the building at Serum Institute of India (SII), in Pune.

A fire fighting operation is underway. More details are awaited. This comes after a fire had broken out at SII's Manjari Plant earlier today, in which five people died and six were rescued from an under-construction building.

"Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will visit the unit of Serum Institute of India in Manjari, Pune, where the fire mishap took place, to inspect and take stock of the situation tomorrow at noon," said Office of the Chief Minister of Maharashtra (CMO).

Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope said that the initial fire was caused by some ongoing welding work at the site.

"Serum Institute of India's building in Manjri (Pune) caught fire due to some ongoing welding work. Insulation material, which is inflammable, was kept near the worksite. So far, 5 deaths have been reported," said Tope.

"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," said Pune Mayor Murlidhar Mohol.

Adar Poonawalla, the Chief executive officer (CEO) and owner of SII expressed grief over the loss of lives.

"We have just received some distressing updates; upon further investigation, we've learnt that there has unfortunately been some loss of life. We are deeply saddened and offer our deepest condolences to family members of the departed," Poonawalla tweeted.

Earlier, SII CEO had said there would be no loss of COVISHIELD production due to multiple production buildings.

The fire broke out at about 2:45 pm at an under-construction building where vaccine production was supposed to start after a month. The fire broke out at 4th and 5th floor of the SEZ3 building. BCG vaccine laboratory was there at 3rd floor of the same building but that is unaffected. The COVISHIELD plant is almost about 1km distance from fire incident site.

It may be noted that the country's apex drugs regulator had granted restricted emergency use permission to SII's Covishield vaccine in India.

Millions of vaccine doses are being manufactured by Serum Institute under technical collaboration with Oxford University/Astra Zeneca. It is pertinent to note that COVISHIELD (SII-ChAdOx1 nCoV-19) vaccine contains the replication-deficient simian adenovirus vector ChAdOx1, containing the structural surface glycoprotein (Spike protein) antigens of SARS-CoV-2. (ANI)