Massive fire in India's Kolkata city destroys 2,500 shops

Other News Materials 12 January 2008 18:31 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - A huge blaze swept through markets and buildings in India's eastern metropolis of Kolkata on Saturday, gutting more than 2,500 shops, injuring a dozen firefighters and leaving thousands homeless, officials said.

Fire Services officials said the fire erupted in the Burrabazar area which houses the country's largest wholesale market and some residential areas.

Police Commissioner Gautam Chakraborty said that blaze was extinguished by about 5 pm (local time), 14 hours after it began in the early hours of Saturday. The cause of fire was being investigated.

Hundreds of people were moved out of shops and buildings as the air force and the army helped the fire-services in putting out one of the worst fires in the city.

Traders and residents wailed as they lost everything in the fire and blamed the fire-services saying the reached late. But fire officials said a water shortage in the city delayed the fire-fighting operations.

Big clouds of smoke were billowing out of the buildings in the area as the fire quickly spread in the area, burning the clusters of the unplanned markets.

Property worth millions of dollars was damaged in blaze and thousands of traders were reduced to paupers as their shops were gutted.

Local officials said 500 firemen and 40 fire tenders were pressed into service to extinguish the fire, adding that 12 fire-fighters were injured in the operation.

West Bengal Fire Services Minister Pratim Chatterjee told the IANS news agency that the traders who had stored flammable articles illegally in the congested area were responsible for the inferno.