New Delhi: At least 15
people were killed and more than 34 injured in a fire at a
congregation of eunuchs at a community park in east Delhi Sunday,
fire brigade officials said.
However, Delhi Health Minister A.K. Walia, who visited the injured
in hospital, put the number of dead at 12, while police said 10
people were killed.
Walia, who visited the Guru Tegh Bahadur hospital where most of
the injured were taken, announced compensation for the victims but
did not specify the amount.
The minister also ordered a thorough probe into the incident. "The
deputy commissioner (revenue) of east Delhi (J.P. Sharma) has been
asked to investigate the incident and file his report to the state
government at the earliest," he told reporters.
The first intimation of the fire at the park in Nand Nagri's E2
block, where the three-day Akhil Bharatiya Kinnara Samaj
Sarvdharma Mahasammelan started Sunday, was received around 6.50
p.m., a fire brigade official said.
According to officials, the blaze started after a tent caught fire
following suspected electrical short-circuit.
As many as 2,000 to 2,500 people were understood to have been
present inside the community centre when the tent burst into
flames, police said.
The tents erected on the grounds of the community hall were
As the fire spread, people ran helter-skelter searching for a safe
area but many got trapped in the fire and lost their lives, police
The approach road to the park was narrow, which hampered rescue
operations as the big fire tenders could not reach the spot to
fight the blaze. However, smaller fire tenders were able to get in
and battle the flames.
Meanwhile, the eunuchs themselves, aided by personnel of the
National Disaster Response Force, the Delhi government's civil
defence, locals and the Nirankari Sevak Samaj, started rescue
operations, bringing out the injured and bodies and clearing the
Fire department officials said the organisers had not taken
permission from the department.
Ashu, a participant in the event, said eunuchs had started
arriving for the event since Saturday evening and were staying at
the venue, where a huge marquee had been put up.
Most of the injured were taken to the Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital,
which was only a short distance away. Some were also taken to the
Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital.
Hospital authorities fear the toll could go up further because
many of the injured had grievous burn injuries.