Amusement park fire leaves 27 dead

RAJKOT, INDIA – A devastating fire erupted at an amusement park in Rajkot, a city in western India. These deadly flames claimed the lives of at least 27 individuals, infants included, on Saturday. The tragedy coincided with a busy school break period.

The deceased, unidentifiable due to the severe burns, required DNA tests for identification, leading relatives like Giriraj Singh, a retired army officer, to be asked to wait for the results to identify his 24-year-old nephew.

Local police official Raju Bhargav reported that Yuvraj Singh Solanki, the park owner, lacked authorization from the fire department to operate the two-story venue. Despite purchasing fire extinguishers and preparing to install a water fire suppression system, Solanki continued operations. 

Solanki and the park manager have since been arrested and charged with death-causing negligence.

Encompassing attractions like bowling, go-carting, and trampolines on the first floor, and the reception area on the ground floor, the park’s structure became a trap for patrons. Narrow park exits contributed to the panic and hindered quick evacuations.

Investigators believe that a welding machine’s spark, caused by ongoing construction work, might have started the fire. Rescue operations have concluded, with current efforts focused on clearing debris.

Relatives were encouraged to return home as the process to identify the victims via DNA tests could require up to 48 hours.

Three people were hospitalized due to burns and smoke inhalation but are expected to recover.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his distress regarding the incident as he offered prayers for those injured and condolences to those who lost their lives.

Fires are a common occurrence in India due to repeated violations of safety codes and building laws by builders and residents. Critics point to cost-cutting builders and negligent civic authorities as causes for these incidents.