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Fire in refugee camp leaves 500 homeless

A fire destroyed more than 100 huts early yesterday afternoon at a Bhutanese refugee camp in eastern Nepal, leaving almost 500 people without shelter.

Police suspect the fire began from a cooking gas leak in one of the huts, local media reported.

“Some 63 huts in two camps were completely turned to ashes while some 38 more were hurriedly destroyed or dismantled to stop the spread of fire,” said Jesuit Refugee services director Father Amalraj S. Paramasivam.

About 41,000 refugees remain in the camps after being expelled from Bhutan over 20 years ago, Fr Amalraj said.

Three fire trucks from nearby towns did not arrive before the fire, which began at 1:40 pm, had burned itself out.

About 40 percent of the refugees are Protestant Christians, due primarily to evangelical efforts in the camps, Fr. Amalraj said.

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