A massive fire ripped through a factory in Anaj Mandi area of north Delhi on Sunday morning, leaving 43 labourers dead and many others injured, police said.
The fire broke out in the second floor of the four-storey building in the early hours and 30 fire tenders were pressed into service, fire officials said.
150 fire personnel carried out the rescue operation and pulled out 63 people from the building.
While 43 labourers died, two fire personnel also sustained injuries while carrying out rescue operations, fire officials said.
The Delhi government has ordered a probe into the incident and sought a detailed report within seven days. An ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh each has been announced for the next of kin of those killed and Rs 1 lakh for those injured.
Chaotic scenes were witnessed at the site of the fire accident which was clogged with bystanders and politicians arriving in convoys.
Firemen made their way through narrow lanes to rescue those trapped inside the blackened building and carried many unconscious labourers on their backs
Fire officials said the congested area made it difficult for them to carry out rescue operations. Many of those killed and injured were fast asleep when the fire broke out.
As the building lacked proper ventilation, most of the people died due to asphyxia.
At the three hospitals where the dead and injured were taken - RML, LNJP and Hindu Roa - distraught relatives tried to locate their family members.
Manoj, 23, a resident of Begusarai in Bihar, said his brother Naveen, 18, was working in a handbag manufacturing unit operating from the premises.
"I got a call from his friend informing that he has been injured in the incident. I have no clue which hospital he has been taken to," he said.
According to an unidentified elderly man whose three nephews were working in the factory, "At least 12-15 machines were installed in the unit. I have no idea about the factory owner.
"My nephews Mohammed Imran and Ikramuddin were inside the factory. I don't know their whereabouts," the man said.
According to him, many units were operating from the premises which was located in a congested area.
Many people trapped inside were rescued and rushed to RML Hospital, LNJP and Hindu Rao Hospital, fire officials said.
Thirty-four people were brought dead to LNJP hospital and smoke inhalation was the primary cause of the death. Some of the bodies were charred, Dr Kishore Singh, Medical Superintendent, LNJP, said.
Out of the 15 injured brought to LNJP, nine people are under observation and others have partial injuries, he said.
Power discom BYPL said the fire broke out due to some "internal system" in the building.
A spokesperson of power discom BSES Yamuna Power Limited(BRPL) said that a team of BSES Yamuna Power Limited(BYPL) immediately disconnected the electricity supply.
"It appears that the fire started in the internal system of the building," he said.
The electricity metres of the building were placed on ground floor and were found to be intact, he added.
As the news of the fire broke out, a host of leaders expressed shock over the loss of lives in the fire tragedy.
PM Narendra Modi described the incident as "extremely horrific".
"The fire in Delhi's Anaj Mandi on Rani Jhansi Road is extremely horrific. My thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones. Wishing the injured a quick recovery," the prime minister said in a tweet.
"Authorities are providing all possible assistance at the site of the tragedy," he said
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his cabinet colleagues Imran Hussain and Satyendra Jain visited the incident spot to take stock of the situation.
Earlier in a tweet, he described the fire incident as tragic and said firemen were doing their best.
"V v tragic news. Rescue operations going on. Firemen doing their best. Injured are being taken to hospitals," the chief minister said in a tweet.
Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi condoled the loss of lives in the fire accident.
A host of leaders including Union Ministers Hardeep Singh Puri, Anurag Thakur, BJP MPs Manoj Tiwari and Vijay Goel were among those who visited the spot on Rani Jhansi Road.
(With PTI inputs)