Tuesday, August 08, 2023

Aviation safety experts claim fire-safety lapse at Chennai Airport, write to AAI

Aviation safety experts have claimed that the newly commissioned terminal at Anna International Airport in Chennai has a "grave" fire safety violation and have raised the issue with its director and the Airport Authority of India. They claimed the emergency exits of the terminal are "sealed", which an airport source said was ostensibly was security reasons, and warned it could lead to a tragedy like the 1997 Uphaar Cinema fire that killed 59 people.

Capt Amit Singh, who runs NGO Safety Matters Foundation, recently wrote to the Airport Authority of India (AAI), the Anna International Airport Director and the fire department in Chennai in this regard.

According to him, the security hold area of the international departure hall at the newly commissioned New Integrated Terminal Building has not complied with fire safety norms mandated by regulations.

When contacted, none of the stakeholders - AAI, the airport director or the Chennai fire department - responded.

"While EXIT signs have been installed, they lead to Emergency Access doors that have been sealed by installing sheets which cover the proposed exits from frame to frame," Capt Singh claimed.

He added, "There is no sign or indication that shows that the exits are closed and should not be used in the event of an emergency exit nor are alternative exits marked or provided."

Drawing a parallel with the lapse in the Uphaar Cinema tragedy on 13th June 1997, Singh said, "One of the reasons for the high casualty in the Uphaar Cinema tragedy was the fact that the exits from the cinema were locked."

"The sealed exits at the airport have the potential of causing harm to the occupants in the event of smoke and/fire. Death due to inhalation of smoke is the fastest, typically in a few minutes," he said.

07/08/2023 PTI/Economic Times

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