Massive India Market Fire Kills 19, Injures 50

Kolkata, Feb. 27 -- At least 19 people were killed and 50 people sustained serious burn injuries as a massive fire engulfed Surya Sen market in central Kolkata's Sealdah area early today. The death toll may further go up.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee also visited the fire site after the incident and blamed the unplanned constructions in the area for the fire.

"This is a very tragic incident. And it has happened because of unplanned constructions in the area. We would give Rs. 2 lakh compensation to the family of those who lost their life. I have asked the police, fire department and Kolkata Municipal Corporation to give me report in three days time following which we will take the next step," Banerjee said.

According to the fire-fighters the fire was detected at 3.50 am at the godown-cum-market complex when the victims were sleeping inside the room. Following which 26 fire-engines rushed to the stop to bring the situation under control. The fire now though under control but is yet to be doused completely.

One woman and 18 men died so far, some sustained sever burn injuries and others died of suffocation. Surajit Kar Purkayastha, Commissioner of Police is at the spot.

Fire service minister Javed Kahn blamed the Left regime for the tragedy.

"This market complex was constructed during the Left rule. It was unauthorized and illegal and did not follow any fire safety norms. Question is how the then government had allowed it to come up? We will take action against the market authorities for not having any fire safety arrangements," Khan said.

Opposition leader Suryakanta Mishra, rushed to the spot but chose not to react to Khan's statement.

"I cannot make irresponsible statements. All I can say is that this is the time when we should focus on saving people maximum number of people, providing treatment for the injured and douse the fire. We demand an enquiry into the incident," Mishra said.

The market has six floors, while the first two floors have godowns, offices and shops the rest of the floors are vacant because of a property dispute among the owners. According to eyewitnesses the fire started on the ground floor, which had several shops stocking Thermocol and jute items and then spread to the first floor and some parts of the second floor.

The reason of the fire is still unknown, however police officials feel that a short circuit may have sparked the fire.

Questions are being raised why the Kolkata Municipal Corporation and the fire department did not pull up the market authorities for not having fire safety measures.

The incident brought back the memory of fire at AMRI Hospital in the city on December 9, 2011, which killed 93 patients, and the 2010 Stephen Court fire in Kolkata which killed 43. Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times. For any query with respect to this article or any other content requirement, please contact Editor at htsyndication@hindustantimes.com

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