A fire swept through a slum in the Indian capital in the early hours of Saturday, killing seven people and destroying 60 thatched-roof huts, rendering hundreds homeless.
The fire broke out in Delhi’s Gokalpuri area slum at around 12:45 a.m. when most residents were sound asleep, police and firefighters said.
Smoke engulfed the area as the fire spread rapidly and small cooking gas cylinders kept in the huts exploded. Within an hour, half the slum was reduced to charred debris.
Delhi (North East) Additional Assistant Commissioner of Police Devesh Kumar Mahla told local media that cops were alerted to the fire around 1am.
“Immediately, the teams arrived on site with all the rescue equipment. We also contacted the fire department who responded very well,” he said.
No fewer than 13 firefighters were on duty within minutes, but it took them three hours to contain the blaze. “We could put out the fire at 4 a.m.,” he said.
Firefighters said they found seven charred bodies at the site. “No less than 60 huts were completely destroyed by fire. An investigation has been ordered into the fire,” an official said.
Local television stations broadcast images of slum dwellers searching for their belongings in the ashes.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal took to Twitter to express his grief over the deaths. ‘I heard the sad news early in the morning. I will go there and personally meet the people concerned,” he tweeted.
Fires in India’s slums are common due to lax enforcement of hellish safety regulations.