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Dozens killed as fire sweeps through building

At least 27 people have been killed and others are missing after a fire swept through a four-storey office building in Delhi.

More than 70 people were inside when the fire started and witnesses said some jumped out of windows to escape.

Women made up the majority of the office’s workers. The BBC found distraught family members waiting outside a local hospital for news.

A short circuit is thought to have started the fire.

The owners of a CCTV manufacturing company which was housed in the building have been arrested in connection with the incident, according to authorities.

One of the women missing is 19-year-old Pooja, who is her family’s main bread winner.

At the Sanjay Ghandi Memorial Hospital in western Delhi, her 14-year-old sister Moni told the BBC her and her mother had run to the hospital as soon as they had heard about the fire.

“She had gone to office at nine in the morning. She worked as data entry operator. She could not take her phone, so, she could not give us a call.”

An Indian teenager holds up a photo of her missing sister
Image caption,Among those missing is Pooja, 19
Women's shoes lie outside the charred building
Image caption,Women’s shoes lie outside the charred building

Her mother stood completely silent next to her younger daughter, unable to speak. Moni asked how her family will survive without her sister if she is not found alive.

Another woman waiting at the hospital, Sunita, said her 20-year-old daughter Sonam was missing.

Bursting into tears, she said that she has searched everywhere for her daughter – who worked on the building’s second floor, where most of the body’s were reportedly found – but was also unable to find out what had happened to her.

“When the building caught fire, there was no door to escape,” she said. “How could my daughter save herself?

Offering his condolences, Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised 200,000 rupees (£2,118; $2,580) to next-of-kin in compensation for each death.

Delhi’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said that DNA tests would be used to identify the bodies, which had been “charred beyond recognition”, the Hindustani Times reported.

A local official, Jogi Ram Jain, said preliminary reports suggested a short circuit had caused the fire and that the building did not have proper fire safety certification.

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