MADRAS, India (AP) - A fire broke out Friday during a wedding in
southern India, killing 45 people, including the groom, and
injuring the bride and dozens of guests, officials said.
Some of the victims were burned, while others were crushed as
people stampeded down a narrow staircase trying to escape the
flames, the officials said.
"Forty-five bodies have been recovered from the marriage
hall," said K. Manivasan, the top administrator for Tiruchi
district in southern Tamil Nadu state, where the fire broke out at
8:45 a.m. Manivasan said about 60 people were hospitalized.
The bride, Jaishree Ramanathan, a schoolteacher, was in serious
condition with burns, Manivasan said. The groom, Guru Raghavender,
who worked at an insurance company, was killed, according to the
administrator.
The fire occurred in Srirangam, a famous Hindu temple town 200
miles south of Madras, the state capital.
Distrct Police Commissioner Sunil Kumar Singh said the fire was
probably caused by an electrical short-circuit. Press Trust of
India quoted other police officers as saying that a string of
garland lights that normally decorate Indian weddings had set fire
to the building's thatched roof.
The wedding was taking place early in the morning because it was
considered an auspicious day in the Hindu calendar, and marriage
halls were fully booked in the town.
The building was 300 feet from the 10th century Sri
Ranganathaswamy Temple, the main attraction in the town.

APTV 01-23-04 0256EST