14 charred to death in major Delhi fire

The fire erupted at around 7 PM on Sunday evening when the three-day all India sammelan of the trans gender community was about to conclude.

Last Updated: Nov 21, 2011, 00:10 AM IST

New Delhi: At least 14 eunuchs were killed
and over 40 others injured this evening when a major fire
swept through an east Delhi community hall where a
congregation of the community was taking place.

The fire erupted at around 7 PM this evening when the
three-day all India sammelan of the trans gender community was
about to conclude, police and fire brigade officals said.

They said prima facie the reaon for the fire appear to be
a short circuit in the kicthen area and that the fire spread
from there.

The tents erected on the grounds of the community hall
were completely gutted and the entire premises were engulfed
in flames.

Fire brigade officials at the site said 12 bodies were
pulled from the gutted tents and two succumbed to their burn
injuries at the Guru Teg Bahadur hospital in Shahadra.

They also said the mandatory permission for holding the
event was not sought from the fire department.

As the fire spread, people ran helter-skelter searching
for a safe zone but many got trapped in the fire and lost
their lives, police said.

Locals said they heard the huge cries of people and came
out and saw that the entire community hall premises engulfed
in flames.
The locals also tried extricate trapped people till the
police and fire service personnel came and began the rescue
operations.

The congregation, which has been going on for the past
three days, had begun at around 1 PM today and the
participants were dancing and enjoying the evening when the
fire took place. Today was the last day of the congregation.

Hospital authorities feared that the toll could go up
further because many of the injured have suffered grievous
burn injuries.

Delhi government tonight ordered a thorough probe into
the fire incident. Delhi Health Minister A K Walia said Deputy
Commissioner(Revenue) of East Delhi J P Sharma has been asked
to invesitage the incident and file his report to the state
government at the earliest.
Utter chaos prevailed outside the community hall where
the incident took place as cries of the people, who lost their
friends in the fire, resonated the whole area.

The people, who were rescued from the site, also alleged
that the authorities were not informing them about the number
of people dead and injured in the incident.

They also alleged that the authorities were indulging in
a "cover-up" operation.

"We were rescued and brought outside the community centre
but we don`t know what has happened to some of our friends who
we think are still inside. Police are not giving us the right
information... They are even taking the bodies out from here
through the back door of the hall," a person, who was rescued
from the site, said.

PTI