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Wednesday, Dec 11, 2019

2 killed after 117-year-old church gutted in fire in Meghalaya

The fire at the Church of God, which was set up in 1902 in Qualapatty locality, is believed to have started from a spark in its electrical wiring as the building was undergoing large-scale repair work.

india Updated: Nov 17, 2019 15:03 IST
Utpal Parashar
Utpal Parashar
Hindustan Times, Guwahati
Fire engulfing the Church of Good building in Qualapatty area of Shillong on Sunday morning.
Fire engulfing the Church of Good building in Qualapatty area of Shillong on Sunday morning. (HT Photo)
         

An old couple was killed when a church, which is more than a century old, was gutted in a fire early on Sunday in Meghalaya’s capital Shillong, police said.

The fire at the Church of God, which was set up in 1902 in Qualapatty locality, is believed to have started from a spark in its electrical wiring as the building was undergoing large-scale repair work.

The two victims, an old couple, who stayed in a house located next to the church, are believed to have died due to asphyxiation. Preliminary investigation has ruled out vandalism.

“We are assessing the cause of the fire. Immediate assessment reveals that since the church was undergoing renovation work, including change in wiring and wooden flooring, the fire could have started due to an electric spark,” said CA Lyngwa, superintendent of police, East Khasi Hills.

“The place is a secure and gated property with watchmen who stay next to the building. Therefore we have ruled out vandalism,” she added.

Police say that though neighbours noticed the fire around 4am, it could have started inside the building one or two hours earlier.

Lyngwa said the two victims could have died when they went inside to collect some valuables and inhaled smoke from the razing fire.

“Police had reached the spot very quickly and asked residents to come out of their houses. The old couple went back inside without anyone noticing and got trapped in the smoke,” she said.

Fire tenders had a tough time reaching the spot as the road leading to the church is very narrow. It took a few hours to contain the fire, but the entire church building was razed by then.

“Woke up to the tragic news of the Church of God, Qualapatty, being gutted in fire that also claimed lives, this morning. The indigenous church is one of the oldest in the state. My prayers for the deceased and the Church of God family,” Meghalaya’s chief minister Conrad Sangma wrote on his Facebook page.