About hundred burnt alive in Meerut | india | Hindustan Times
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About hundred burnt alive in Meerut

ABOUT A hundred people were charred to death and over 100 injured in a major fire that broke out at the ?Brand India Exhibition? site in Meerut on Monday. Though the official death toll was put between 31 and 50, eyewitnesses said more than 300 persons had died in the fire. Today was the last day of the four-day show. All the three enclosures at the exhibition were completely gutted. It is suspected that the fire was caused by short circuit.

india Updated: Apr 11, 2006 01:44 IST

ABOUT A hundred people were charred to death and over 100 injured in a major fire that broke out at the ‘Brand India Exhibition’ site in Meerut on Monday. Though the official death toll was put between 31 and 50, eyewitnesses said more than 300 persons had died in the fire.

Today was the last day of the four-day show. All the three enclosures at the exhibition were completely gutted.

It is suspected that the fire was caused by short circuit. Eyewitnesses said the fire began at the main enclosure around 6 pm and soon engulfed the other 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.

Ironically, the mela organisers using public addressing system had been trying to stop people from rushing out, claiming that the fire was under control.

Thousands of computers, refrigerators, air conditioners and other consumer goods were reduced to ashes within half an hour.

While the organizers have reportedly disappeared, the district administration has summoned army and para military forces to control the situation.

While the relatives of victims rushed all over the park to trace their kins there was no official assistance. 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.

Eyewitnesses said: “More than 3,000 people were inside the enclosures when the fire broke out”, said an eyewitness P P Singh.

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. Rs 25,000 will be paid to those with minor injuries.

Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav will visit Meerut on Tuesday to make an on the spot assessment of the situation. The army is helping in the rescue and relief operation.

SSP Rajeev Sabharwal said, “More than 50 people are feared dead.”

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.

Meanwhile, Divisional Commissioner Mohinder Singh has ordered a magisterial enquiry into the fire. Chief Development Officer (CDO) Pushyapati Saxena has been nominated investigation officer.

Singh, along with District Magistrate Ram Krishan, visited the hospitals to know the condition of injured persons. ADM (City) Sreesh Dubey has been asked to probe weather the enclosures were erected after taking proper permission from the administration.