UCA News
Contribute

4 kids among 27 dead in India amusement park fire

Some 300 people were enjoying the summer holiday weekend in the two-story structure in Rajkot, a city in western Gujarat state
Officials inspect the site of a fire accident on the following day of the disaster, at an amusement park facility in Rajkot, in India's Gujarat state on May 26.

Officials inspect the site of a fire accident on the following day of the disaster, at an amusement park facility in Rajkot, in India's Gujarat state on May 26. (Photo: AFP)

Published: May 27, 2024 05:06 AM GMT
Updated: May 27, 2024 08:04 AM GMT

Four young children were among 27 people killed when a fire in India ripped through a crowded amusement park, a top local official said on May 26, as rescuers scoured the site the morning after the blaze.

Survivors reported having to kick down doors and leap out of windows to escape the inferno that swept through a center packed full of young people enjoying games including bowling, Indian media reported.

Lines of bodies draped in white cloths were laid out before being taken away from the center in Rajkot, a city in the western state of Gujarat.

The four children reported dead were all aged under 12, said police, who warned that many of the corpses were so badly burned it was difficult to identify them.

Outside the still-smoldering wreckage, the mother and sister of 20-year-old Asha Kathad — who had worked in the center — waited for news.

They held up a photograph of Asha on a mobile phone.

"We don't have any information about her," Asha's mother told local reporters, too distraught to give her full name as she wept.

'Trapped' 

More than 300 people were enjoying the summer holiday weekend in the two-story structure at the TRP amusement and theme park when the blaze broke out on May 25 evening, Rajkot fire officer Ilesh Kher told reporters on the night of the fire.

"People got trapped as a temporary structure at the facility collapsed near the entrance, making it difficult for the people to come out," he said.

The flames spread rapidly because of the structure's flammable material, he added.

Fires are common in India due to poor building practices, overcrowding, and a lack of adherence to safety regulations.

Also on May 25 night, a fire in India's capital ripped through a newborn baby hospital, killing six infants, with passersby charging into the burning building to pull out the other newborns from the ward.

Speaking at the site of the Gujarat amusement park fire, top local government official Prabhav Joshi confirmed to AFP that the number killed had risen on May 26 morning to 27.

"The toll in the fire incident is now 27," he said. "Police have arrested two persons and the investigation is continuing."

The local Rajkot government said in a statement that forensic officers were "collecting DNA samples from the remains" as "the bodies have been charred beyond recognition."

'Tried to escape' 

Survivors recalled their horror as they struggled to flee the fire.

"We were bowling when two staff members told us there was a fire on the ground floor and we should leave. The area was soon full of smoke," Pruthvirajsinh Jadeja told The Indian Express newspaper.

"We tried to escape from the rear door, but couldn't. I saw a beam of light coming from outside. I kicked down the tin sheet and five of us made our way out, jumping from the first floor."

Jadeja added that at least 70 people, including children, were on the first floor when the fire broke out.

An Instagram page that appears to belong to the facility advertises it as an amusement and theme park, where trampolining, go-karting, bowling and paintball are offered, among other recreational activities.

Gujarat is the home state of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who said he was "extremely distressed by the fire" in a post on social media.

Help UCA News to be independent
Dear reader,
Trafficking is one of the largest criminal industries in the world, only outdone by drugs and arms trafficking, and is the fastest-growing crime today.
Victims come from every continent and are trafficked within and to every continent. Asia is notorious as a hotbed of trafficking.
In this series, UCA News introduces our readers to this problem, its victims, and the efforts of those who shine the light of the Gospel on what the Vatican calls “these varied and brutal denials of human dignity.”
Help us with your donations to bring such stories of faith that make a difference in the Church and society.
A small contribution of US$5 will support us continue our mission…
William J. Grimm
Publisher
UCA News
Asian Bishops
Latest News
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia