Kolkata market fire kills at least 19


Indian firefighters carry out the remains of a blaze victim from the Surya Sen market building in Kolkata on February 27, 2013.



At least 19 people have been killed in a fire that took over an illegal market in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata.

Surya Sen Market, which deals in paper and plastic, was housed in an old multi-storey building in Kolkata's Sealdah area, reported BBC News. Several people were also seriously injured, and officials expected the death toll to rise.

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The fire broke out early Wednesday morning while some people were still asleep inside the building. It was contained after three hours. Nobody else is thought to be trapped inside.

According to Reuters, most of the victims were laborers who worked at the market. A short circuit is expected to be the cause of the blaze, and rescue operations were impeded because the building had only one exit.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that unplanned construction should be blamed for the fire and that people who had been living in the market should be moved to shelters.

"Kolkata neighborhoods are unplanned and the situation is really serious in some areas," she told Reuters.

Mamata also hinted at the idea that the fire could have been set deliberately.

"Who knows that some people deliberately set the place on fire with an ulterior motive," she told The Times of India. "We have ordered an inquiry. KMC, the fire department and the police will jointly conduct the inquiry and submit its report in three days."