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Fire kills baby, thousands homeless

Emergency services still struggling to contain the blaze in an eastern village

Chirendra Satyal, Kathmandu

May 16, 2012

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A fire continued to ravage a village in eastern Nepal Wednesday after starting in the kitchen of a house the day before. The blaze has killed one and  gutted around 3,000 huts, cattle sheds and concrete houses. The fire in Aurahi, in Siraha district which borders India, killed a 3-month-old infant and injured at least half a dozen other people. Cattle were also killed and injured. "We are trying to assess the damage. Villagers in Siraha have been sleeping out in the open without food and even drinking water since yesterday," said Father Pius Perumana, director of Caritas Nepal, the Catholic Church's social arm. He noted that his team is currently in India for disaster-relief training. The army and the two fire trucks that both arrived from neighboring districts hours after the fire started have not been able to contain the blaze, which has left more than 10,000 people homeless, the chief of the Nepal Red Cross, Siraha Yadav, told local media.  Villagers reportedly did not have time to save their belongings. "It is the dry, windy season, and a spark can cause untold damage," said Fr Amal Raj, director of the Jesuit Refugee Service. "We still do not know what caused a fire on April 29 in one of our refugee camps at Sanischare. The solution is to focus on prevention." Related reports: Fire destroys UN refugee camps
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