NEW DELHI – At least 16 people, mostly students, have died on Friday and another 16 were injured when a fire broke out at a study center in the western state of Gujarat, an official told EFE.
The fire broke out at 4 pm local time at a building that houses a training center, P L Chaudhari, assistant commissioner of Surat police said.
Chaudhari said initial investigations showed the fire was started by a short-circuit in an electrical transformer.
A fire was declared on the second floor of the building and the majority of the victims lost their lives trying to reach the third and top floor in an attempt to escape the flames, finding themselves trapped, the source added.
Images broadcast on television station NDTV showed a large plume of smoke rising into the atmosphere and people throwing themselves from the third floor.
Narendra Modi, India’s freshly re-elected prime minister, lamented the tragedy, which took place in his home state.
“Extremely anguished by the fire tragedy in Surat,” tweeted Modi. “My thoughts are with bereaved families. May the injured recover quickly.”
The premier added that he had asked local authorities to provide assistance to those affected.
In mid-February, a blaze broke out at a hotel in the Indian capital New Delhi, claiming the lives of at least 17 people.
Fires and building collapses are frequent in India owing to the often precarious state of infrastructure and a lack of maintenance, factors that are aggravated by corrupt and illegal practices afflicting the construction sector.