Brand India fair in flames in Meerut, over 50 die | india | Hindustan Times
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Brand India fair in flames in Meerut, over 50 die

OVER 50 people were burnt to death and several others were injured in a huge fire that broke out at a trade fair on Monday. All three enclosures of the "Brand India Exhibition Show' -- in which reputed companies displayed consumer electronics products -- at Victoria Park were completely gutted. It is feared that the death toll could be much higher it was the last day of the fair and there was a big rush of visitors.

india Updated: Apr 11, 2006 13:42 IST
S. Raju

OVER 50 people were burnt to death and several others were injured in a huge fire that broke out at a trade fair on Monday. All three enclosures of the "Brand India Exhibition Show' -- in which reputed companies displayed consumer electronics products -- at Victoria Park were completely gutted. It is feared that the death toll could be much higher it was the last day of the fair and there was a big rush of visitors.

It is suspected that the fire was caused by short circuit. Eyewitnesses said the fire began at the main enclosure around 6 p.m. and soon engulfed the two enclosures adjacent to it. Most of the victims were women and salespersons of participating companies.

Police officials said the enclosures had only one exit and one entry -- one of the reasons for the high casualty. The UP government has ordered a high-level inquiry into the incident and has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh to the next of the kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for those critically injured. Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav will visit Meerut on Tuesday to make an on spot assessment of the situation. The army is helping in the rescue and relief operation.

The fire was so devastating that heavy smoke could be seen from several kilometres away. At the venue, charred bodies lay strewn around the enclosures.

Ambulances were seen taking away heaps of bodies to the hospitals. SSP Rajeev Sabharwal said, "More than 50 are feared dead." But eyewitnesses said the toll was not less than 300. The official figure of critically injured was 12 (including a fire fighter who had to be sent to Delhi for treatment).

Seven fire tenders were pressed into service to douse the fire. Officials were seen screaming on their mobile phones and wireless sets, seeking more fire tenders from nearby areas.