24 killed, mostly children, in fire at park in India

Published May 26, 2024
Firefighters try to extinguish a fire which broke out at an amusement park facility in Rajkot, in India’s Gujarat state on May 25, 2024. — AFP
Firefighters try to extinguish a fire which broke out at an amusement park facility in Rajkot, in India’s Gujarat state on May 25, 2024. — AFP

NEW DELHI: At least 24 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 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, said that 24 people had died in the inferno, “mostly children”, and another half-dozen were hospitalised.

“The police have detained four persons associated with the game zone for questioning,” he said. “We are trying to get more details about the owners of the facility.”

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.”

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.

Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2024

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