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31 May 2023

Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Hema escape huge fire [video]

It took firefighters 30 minutes to knock down the blaze and about 8,000 guests were present at the event. (Screen grab)

By Staff/Agencies

A huge fire gutted a stage at a cultural event in Mumbai on Sunday, which was part of the Indian government's much-trailed 'Make in India' week.

The massive blaze broke out shortly after Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan had read a poem at the event, which was being held on the popular Chowpatty beach in the south of India's commercial capital.

Thousands, including Maharashtra's chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, had to be evacuated after the fire started around 8:00 pm (14:30 GMT).

Bollywood stars Aamir Khan and Hema Malini joined ministers escaping the fire.

Aamir Khan ‏tweeted: "The fire at Chowpatty was most unfortunate but the crisis was very well handled by the Mumbai Police, Fire Dept & the Maharashtra Govt.

"The evacuation was carried out smoothly resulting in no casualties and no panic. The CM stayed till the end to oversee the evacuation. Excellent disaster management."

Amitabh Bachchan recounted the event on Twitter: "What happened at event ? I just finished my performance got off stage and sat in my car and left .. just then fire on stage broke!"

He continued: "Production was wanting me to stay & go back on to meet the CM .. had I gone back would have been caught in fire .. providential.

"But its God's grace that immediate action was taken and the fire brought under control .. and no casualties !! But frightening!!

"And thank you for the wealth of good wishes that have come from all .. I never knew so many would be concerned for my well being!!"

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

It took firefighters 30 minutes to knock down the blaze and about 8,000 guests were present at the event.

"14 Fire engines, 10 Water Tankers, and all Sr. Fire Officers are on site. Fire now totally under control. Program called off," Fadnavis tweeted around 9:15 pm.

"Very unfortunate occurrence of fire in cultural program organised by GoM at Mumbai. No casualties reported, no one is injured," he added.

He said the "venue was evacuated immediately" and that "a comprehensive inquiry into the incidence of fire will be conducted to ascertain reasons".

Deputy commissioner of Mumbai police Dhananjay Kulkarni also said there were no reports of any casualties.

Pics: Getty Images

The event was celebrating Maharashtra culture as part of India's 'Make in India' week, which is aimed at attracting investment to the country and is running in the western city of Mumbai from February 13 to 18.

"Initially we thought it (the flames) were part of the performance, then we realised it wasn't part of the plan," said Prasoon Joshi, an Indian lyricist who was at the event.

Other dancers who were in the green room escaped to the sea when they heard panicked screams.

"There were over 1,000 people backstage in the green rooms or waiting their turn turn to perform," dancer Pompi Mondol told newspaper Indian Express. "The wind direction was leading the fire toward where the most number of people were. Some of us had to break the green room and run."