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Okhla fire: Joy turned to horror, despair within a matter of seconds

Two shanties in southeast Delhi’s Okhla were engulfed in the fire. At least nine people were rushed to the hospital after the incident.

delhi Updated: Jun 27, 2017 23:50 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Okhla fire,cylinder blast,5 killed
Two shanties in southeast Delhi’s Okhla were engulfed in the fire. At least nine people were rushed to the hospital after the incident.(Saumya Khandelwal/HT PHOTO)

Till Monday, 20-year-old Renu was busy arranging matching jewellery with her clothes for her brother’s wedding.

A day later, she was in a state of mourning.

Nine of her family members were trapped in a fire that engulfed her jhuggi before her eyes in Delhi’s Okhla on Monday night. Five people — including her mother — were charred to death. She tried to help, but could not do much.

“It all happened before my eyes and I could do nothing. I was just outside my house when the cylinder exploded. I went numb. Within seconds the fire spread and engulfed my house. I could hear my brother, mother, father and aunts shout for help but could do nothing. I stood there watching them burn,” Renu, Ravikant’s sister, said.

While Ravikant, who was to get married on June 28, was injured, his mother, Usha (42), two aunts, Lalsa (31) and Santra (30), his brother, Shashikant (19), and cousin Khushi (6) were killed. His father, Surender (45) and two cousins –Guddu (27) and Jitender (18) suffered severe burns and are undergoing treatment .

The entire family had gathered for Ravikant’s wedding and had made a make shift kitchen outside the house for cooking.

“They were all very excited and had been staying together and making arrangements for over a week. It happened all of a sudden. None of us could smell the gas leaking. The moment one of his aunt’s stepped out to make tea and lit the fire, the cylinder blew. It felt like a bomb blast,” a local said.

Renu tried to rush inside the house to rescue her family members but was held back. “How could I have left them inside. I tried to go in, but the locals kept me back. Everything is over now,” she said. Renu, who is in state of shock has been losing consciousness at intervals. She was taken to a hospital by the locals.

Jitender, Ravikant’s cousin, too tried to go inside to rescue the family members but could not as the entrance of the jhuggi was up in flames making it difficult for anyone to enter the house. He sustained burns on his hands and arms.

“I tried going back inside but got burnt in the process. The fire spread within seconds. Since it started from the entry door, there was no other way to go inside or for my family to come out,” he said.

The locals said they heard the blast and rushed to help the family, but could not enter the jhuggi as the flames had spread.

“We called the fire department but they took 20 minutes to arrive. We tried to douse the flames by throwing water, but it spread quickly. We could hear the family members shout for help from inside, but we were helpless. None of us have ever witnessed such a tragedy. They were all so happy about their son’s wedding,” Sapna, a neighbour, said.

“They had collected jewellery, cash, sweets and clothes over a period of time to be used in the wedding. Just one accident and it is all gone. All the money and clothes have been reduced to ashes. It is very unfortunate,” she said.

First Published: Jun 27, 2017 23:49 IST