Fire at e-scooter showroom in India kills eight

The fire in the southern city of Secunderabad also injured 11 in the country’s deadliest such incident involving electric vehicles.

India e-scooter fire
Police officials stand amid damaged e-scooters after a fire broke out at a showroom in the southern city of Secunderabad [Reuters]

At least eight people have been killed and 11 injured in a fire that started at an electric scooter showroom in India, police said, in what is the deadliest such incident involving electric vehicles in the country.

The fire broke out late on Monday in a hotel basement housing a showroom with some two dozen electric scooters in the southern city of Secunderabad, according to police. They added that it had been brought under control and an investigation had been launched.

A spate of electric scooter fires this year has alarmed the government, which is keen to promote the use of the two-wheelers in its fight against pollution. Early investigations have identified faulty battery cells and battery modules among the main causes.

Most of those killed in the latest fire were occupants of the hotel, which was engulfed by smoke.

Police and firefighters used cranes and other equipment to rescue stranded hotel guests from the upper floors of the four-storey building as smoke billowed out of its windows, media images showed.

“Those staying on the first and second floors were overpowered by smoke and the maximum casualties are from those floors,” C V Anand, the police chief of the neighbouring city of Hyderabad, told Reuters partner ANI.

“There were electric scooters parked where the fire started,” city police official Chandana Deepti told Reuters news agency on Tuesday.

“We don’t know if it started because of overcharging and then spread or whether it started elsewhere. That is still being established.”

The identity of the dealer and the make of the scooters being sold were not immediately clear.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was saddened by the deaths and promised compensation for the victims of the fire.

In March, India launched an investigation over safety concerns after a string of e-scooter fires, including one in which a man and his daughter died when their e-bike “went up in flames”.

India wants e-scooters and e-bikes to make up 80 percent of total two-wheeler sales by 2030, from about 2 percent now.

Source: Reuters