80 children killed in TN school inferno
Kumbakonam (TN), July 16. (PTI): Eighty students aged between eight and ten years were today charred to death while over 25 others received serious burns when a major fire whipped through their school in this town of Tamil Nadu's Thanjavur district.
While most children died on-the-spot and were charred beyond recognition, some others succumbed to injuries in hospitals.
The victims were in the age group of eight to ten, District Magistrate J Radhakrishnan, said adding that no teacher was among the victims.
The fire, which is believed to have started from the kitchen when the noon meal for nursery children was being prepared, soon spread to a row of thatched roof classrooms where students from class one to class five were present, police and eyewitnesses said.
Five class rooms on the third floor of the Saraswati Nursery School were gutted in the fire that broke out at 11 am. Around 900 students were present in the Sri Krishna Girls High School complex housing the primary, middle and high schools.
While the high school and middle school students escaped on noticing the fire, the nursery school children got trapped as the thatched roof collapsed on them making their movement difficult.
The injured were rushed to government and some private hospitals where their condition was stated to be serious.
Radhakrishnan told PTI that the fire completely destroyed five classrooms. Some of the victims also died of suffocation as the exit passage was narrow, he said.
Earlier reports said 75 bodies had been recovered from the spot. Radhakrishan, who is camping at the spot along with the Range DIG, said the fire had been put off and relief operations were on in full swing.
Radhakrishnan said there were around 900 students present at the time of the mishap in the school complex. He said so far 32 students had been admitted to the Government Hospital with burns.
The fire had totally razed down five classrooms and several victims had died of suffocation as the passage from the classrooms was narrow preventing their escape, police sources said.
This is the second major tragedy in this temple town after the death of over 60 people during the 1992 Mahamaham Festival in a stampede.
Fire tenders from Kumbakonam and neighbouring towns battled the flames for nearly two hours.
The incident is the second major fire mishap in the state this year after the inferno at a marriage hall in Srirangam, near Tiruchirappalli, in which 59 people were charred to death in January.
After the Srirangam fire, the state Government had ordered that proper fire-fighting system should be installed in all public buildings. But, the school complex lacked such a system.