Mantralaya fire death toll climbs to 5

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Two more bodies were on Friday recovered from the fire-ravaged Maharashtra government secretariat taking the death toll to five even as Mumbai Police registered a case of accidental death in the incident.

Though the fire, which broke out yesterday, was doused early today, fire brigade officer S.V. Joshi said the cooling operation will continue for the next two days. Fire brigade personnel combing the sixth floor of the building today recovered two bodies.

"Since yesterday, three bodies have already arrived at the hospital," JJ Hospital dean Dr. T.P. Lahane said.

"We have been asked to send in ambulance to bring two more bodies," he said. The condition of state government's publicity department official Hemant Khaire is critical and he would remain at the JJ Hospital for the next few days, Lahane said.

The other injured will be discharged today, he added. A special meeting of Maharashtra Cabinet is underway to review the situation in the aftermath of the fire.

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, who has announced a crime branch probe into the incident, is chairing the meeting being held at Vidhan Bhawan.

Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar visited Mantralaya this morning and reviewed the work in progress to cool off the seven-storeyed building.

Pawar told reporters that the Chief Minister's office on the sixth floor has remained comparatively unscathed by the fire which had gutted nearby offices.

A large number of files were also destroyed, including that of Urban Development department which is embroiled in the Adarsh housing scam involving several top politicians, bureaucrats and ex-army officials, raising questions on whether any sabotage was the cause.

The injured persons have been admitted to various hospitals including 11 at JJ and St George, 3 at GT and 2 at Nair hospital.

Some of them have suffered suffocation, while others have sustained minor injuries on hands and legs, Lahane said.

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