Fire kills 5 workers at India's COVID-19 vaccine unit

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Five workers were killed after a fire broke out at the premises of India's COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer at Manjri in the western state of Maharashtra on Thursday.

The fire at an under-construction building of the Serum Institute of India (SII), one of the world's largest vaccine manufacturers, was adjacent to the facility where the Covishield vaccine developed by the Oxford University and AstraZeneca is being manufactured by SII.

"We have just received some distressing updates; upon further investigation we have learnt that there has unfortunately been some loss of life at the incident. We are deeply saddened and offer our deepest condolences to the family members of the departed," said Adar Poonawalla, CEO and owner of SII.

Ten fire tenders and a team of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were rushed to the spot to douse the blaze that erupted around 2:45 p.m. local time.

"Six people have been rescued. Prima facie seems that the fire was caused by an electric fault," said Uddhav Thackarey, Chief Minister of Maharashtra, who has also ordered a detailed investigation into the incident.

Serum officials said the fire in the company's premises would not affect the production of Covishield vaccine.

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