New Delhi – A massive fire broke out at a tuition class in India’s Western state of Gujarat on Friday killing 18 students, police said.
Videos recorded by locals which were circulated on social media showed several students jumping off the third floor and fourth floor of the commercial complex in Surat city to escape the blaze.
Surat lawmaker Darshana Jardosh said 18 children were killed in the tragedy. Media reports said most of the victims were teenagers between 14 years and 17 years.
Four of them had died from injuries suffered after jumping from the building, local police officer M M Puwar said by telephone.
Five more students who were injured were taken to nearby hospitals, he added.
The fire was brought under control in about five hours by two dozen fire engines.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is from the state, offered his condolences for the deaths and instructed the local authorities to provide all possible assistance to those affected.
“Extremely anguished by the fire tragedy in Surat. My thoughts are with bereaved families. May the injured recover quickly,” Modi wrote on Twitter.
Another politician, C R Patil, alleged there were gross safety violations in the building; the coaching class was being run from an illegal construction on the topmost floors and there were no emergency fire exits.
State Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has ordered a high-level probe into the tragedy and announced compensation of 400,000 rupees (5,750 dollars) for the families of the victims.
Deaths in fires are not uncommon in India where many establishments do not comply with fire safety standards. The fires are often caused by substandard or ageing electrical materials.
In February, no fewer than 17 people died in a fire that broke out at a hotel in the national capital New Delhi. (dpa/NAN)