Bad wiring, gas canisters blamed for deadly slum fire in India

Tuesday, April 23, 2002

NOIDA, India, -- A short circuit in an Indian shantytown's illegal wiring system triggered cooking gas explosions and a raging fire that left several children dead and 70 people injured Monday, an official said.

Four children were burned to death in the blaze, said fire station officer Kamal Kumar Agarwal in Noida, an industrial town bordering New Delhi.

Most of the 70 injured were also children, apparently left in their huts while their parents worked in factories or houses in Noida.

Thousands of shanty dwellers, many of them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, live in Noida, working in its factories and homes, police say.

Agarwal said the shantytown was full of illegally strung electrical wires. A short circuit in them caused a cooking gas canisters to explode, setting off about 100 more canisters and starting the fire, he said.

Earlier, Noida police officer Singh Yadav had said at least seven children were killed.

It was not possible to immediately clear up the discrepancy in the number of deaths, as bodies were being taken to the hospital and firefighters were dousing the smoldering ruins of the vast slum.

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