Five arrested for India school inferno

Five people have been arrested for negligence after a devastating fire left 90 school children dead in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

    Bereaved parents have been offered $2170 compensation

    But as the police investigated what is being termed as India's worst fire in the last decade, grieving parents buried the dead on Saturday and blamed the authorities.

    The 90 children, aged between seven and 12, were burned to death when the thatched-roof of the Saraswati Primary School in Kumbakonam, 350km from the southern city of Chennai, went up in flames.

    Rescuers told horror stories of the fight to save the children who struggled to flee the blaze, only to be blocked by a metal door locked from the outside.

    Closed door

    "When we finally broke through and entered the first floor, we found all the dead children in a huddle, one child hugging the other – all embracing each other and some clinging to the closed grill door," one rescuer said.

    The dead totaled 46 girls and 44 boys whose charred bodies were handed to their parents for funerals. Eighteen children were in hospital but only one of them was in a critical condition, doctors said.

    "The others will pull through," said plastic surgeon V Jayaraman.

    ِAt the funeral site near the school, a seemingly unending parade of distraught parents brought their children for burial.

    "My entire world has collapsed as I have lost both my children," sobbed 33-year-old Simon Antonidas.

    Anguished parents

    The government has announced compensation of $2170 for each of the victims' families, but relatives of the dead were not consoled.

    "No amount of money can compensate me for losing my son, he was so precious to me," wailed Manjula Murthy, whose nine-year-old son died in the blaze.

    The school's head teacher and two other school officials have been arrested, along with the school cook and the organiser of the noon meal centre.

    Officials believe the fire began in the school kitchen where cooks were preparing lunch for the children. Sparks leapt to the thatched roof of the primary school, setting it alight and trapping the victims when it collapsed.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Explore how your country voted on global issues since 1946, as the world gears up for the 74th UN General Assembly.

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.