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May 25, 2024

At least 16 dead, mostly children in India amusement park fire

At least 16 dead, mostly children in India amusement park fire

At least 16 people were killed, most of them children, when a fire broke out at a packed amusement park arcade in India on Saturday, officials said.

Footage posted on social media, which AFP was not able to immediately verify, showed a ferocious blaze engulfing a structure, with black smoke pouring into the sky.

Prabhav Joshi, the district collector of Rajkot, in the western state of Gujarat, told AFP that 16 people had died in the inferno and nine were hospitalised.

Rescue operations were continuing and the toll could rise further, he added.

Some media reports put the number of dead as high as 24.

More than 300 people were in the two-storey structure at the TRP amusement and theme park when the blaze broke out as it was a summer holiday weekend, Rajkot fire officer Ilesh Kher told reporters.

“People got trapped as a temporary structure at the facility collapsed near the entrance, making it difficult for the people to come out,” he said.

The flames spread rapidly because of its flammable material, he added.

Pictures from the scene showed a corrugated metal structure largely in ruins.

Gujarat is the home state of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who posted on X: “Extremely distressed by the fire mishap in Rajkot. My thoughts are with all those who have lost their loved ones. Prayers for the injured.”

Fires common in India 

It took nearly an hour to douse the fire, with about a dozen ambulances carrying the injured to hospital.

Fire department officials said a short-circuit was suspected as the cause and police at the site said the bodies of the dead were heavily burned, making identification difficult.

Pictures from an Instagram account that appears to belong to the facility show a lively gaming and recreational centre, with teenagers enjoying activities such as bowling, go-karting and trampolining.

Fires are common in India due to poor building practices, overcrowding and a lack of adherence to safety regulations.

In February, 11 people were killed in a fire that ripped through a paint factory in the capital New Delhi.

In 2022, at least 27 people died and dozens more were injured after a huge fire broke out at a four-storey commercial building in the city.

In 2016, more than 100 people were killed after a massive explosion during a banned fireworks display in the southern state of Kerala.

AFP