Carlton Towers  

Posted by CK in ,

There was a fire today in my office building. You must’ve seen it on the news. It was Carlton Towers in Bangalore. Most people know it as the TGIF building on Old Airport Road. The top few floors caught fire and a few people panicked and they jumped from the top floors of the building and fell to their deaths. Some others died in the hospital due to smoke inhalation. The toll is now at 9 and I hope to God it stays there.

I’m fine. I wasn’t even at work. I had decided to stay and work from home and thought I’d pop into the office during the afternoon. For whatever reason, I’d decided to stay at home and continue working and was only made aware of the fire by a colleague who called me to tell me that all our people had gotten out safely from the building. We’re on the first floor and the fire was, at that time, contained in the higher floors of the building.

I got on the phone and immediately checked to see if anyone was hurt. Luckily, no one was. There were a few scared people because I believe they’d witnessed a few jumpers. I then called home to tell them I was okay. I then turned on the news and watched as the drama unfolded. People trapped in the top floors were breaking glass to be able to breathe. The fire engines that had gotten there couldn’t reach past the 4th floor as their ladders wouldn’t go higher. People were shimmying down ropes from the 7th floor. It was the scariest thing I had witnessed in a while. They finally rescued everyone and admitted around 60 people to the hospital.

I have a few bones to pick with what happened today besides the needless loss of life.

What enraged me completely was that the news channels, News9 and Headlines Today were showing video clips from some amateur cameras of people slipping, falling and jumping out of windows. And they had these clips on repeat. It was atrocious. I’ve never seen anything else with such clear disregard for human decency or courtesy. Imagine the state of the people sitting at home, scared shitless that their loved ones might be there, there’s no way to get in touch with them and they see pictures (no matter how blurry) of people falling to their deaths. There’s no information being conveyed here that people would lose in translation if it was uttered. “People have been seen jumping from windows.” It’s pretty clear and explanatory. Videos of the same are completely unnecessary. I picked up the phone and tried to call them to give them a piece of my mind and stayed on the phone for 15 minutes trying to get through but gave up after I got the busy signal for the hundredth time.

Also, the roads were jammed for miles in every direction with traffic that was blocking fire engines and ambulances. That, I can understand. It happens. But there were also 500 onlookers standing and gawking at the spectacle. There were a few good Samaritans who were helping ferry the people into waiting cars and such to take these people to the Hospital. But a large number of them were standing like fucking idiots watching. I’m sure a moron would have realized that they were in the way. But no. The stupid thing about the idiot mob/crowd is they’re a bunch of bumbling fools who have the IQ of a dodo. What the hell are they staring at? Is it entertainment? Do they want their 10 seconds when the News cameras pan the area? It’s pretty simple logic, if you’re not helping, get the hell out of the way and let the rescuers do their fucking job. Idiots.

One of my colleagues told me that while she was running down the fire escape to get out of the building, the fire escape was locked. There was also clutter in the stairwells that impeded the firemen when they were trying to enter the building. What kind of a bastard locks a fire escape? And this isn’t the first place I’ve seen it. Hundreds of buildings all over this country have emergency exits that are locked and sealed. This is kind of like having the antidote for a deadly disease but keeping it in a lockbox and forgetting the key. They’re arresting the maintenance personnel and so they should. It’s their negligence that didn’t give people the chance to escape. They should be made to face the families of all those killed. The state of emergency response and procedures in this country is deplorable. Even if there ever was a terrorist attack, more people would die from inefficiencies and stupidity than from bullets or bombs.

Anyways, I’m sorry for the families of all those who lost their lives today. It really makes you wonder. You wake up in the morning thinking its just another day at work and you never come home. Reminds you of how fragile life actually is. I was never in any danger today because I wasn’t even in the same zip code. But it could’ve been me just as easily as it was the people who died. I’m not scared or angry for me. Just at the completely needless loss of life.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 23, 2010 at Tuesday, February 23, 2010 and is filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


It was a situation that could have been handled much better. True.

I am glad you weren't there today.
And a heartfelt moment of thought to all the people who were. I am sorry they had to be.

February 23, 2010 at 9:14 PM

Am really glad that you werent there. God Bless.

February 24, 2010 at 10:23 AM

You have echoed the sentiments of a lot of people in your post. I am so pissed with these tragedy tourists. After this incident, it had been reported that there will be a check on all high-rise buildings in Bangalore as far as fire safety is concerned. I just hope the authorities, and importantly, the building owners wake up to the reality. Lastly, prayers go out to all those hurt in this tragic incident.

February 24, 2010 at 10:37 AM

@Rohit: Thanks, buddy.
@Raghuram: I know exactly what you mean, bro. I hope all the buildings in the city actually turn on those fire alarms from now on and realize how important it is to pay attention to fire safety.

February 24, 2010 at 12:03 PM

@Vodka: I know. I'm glad I wasn't there as well. Prayers for all the people who died.

February 24, 2010 at 5:14 PM
This comment has been removed by the author.
February 25, 2010 at 9:07 PM

A tragedy, nine families lost one of their family members. A typical toppling dominoes effect; illprepared fire department, irresponsible media, insensitive onlookers, mahem and panic. This incident screams in our face of how un-prepared we are. I am sure, barring the nine families, this incident would be soon forgotten, apathy will set in, until the next one.
Srikant, good you were not around. My silent moments for the bereaved families.

February 25, 2010 at 9:10 PM

Hey Ramsay,

I know what you mean, bro. I do hate apathy. It honestly is up to each one of us to go out there and make sure that at least the places where we're working are following regulations. That's the least we can do when it comes to our own workplace.

February 26, 2010 at 2:12 AM

I am with you on the way the media and onlookers react.. Our society loves entertainment through voyeurism.. Onllokers gawking at an accident is open voeyurism getting their entertainment fix..

Media sux man.


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