At least 19 students died and 20 others suffered serious injuries in the western Indian city of Surat after a commercial complex caught fire on Friday. Another youth died in hospital on Saturday.
More than 50 students were in classes when the fire erupted in the Takshashila Arcade complex, which housed a tuition center on the multistoried building’s top floor.
Sixteen of the dead were young women who had been preparing for exams at the center, which, according to government officials, had been illegally set up.
“The fire was caused by a short circuit in one of the air-conditioning ducts on the ground floor … and spread to the third floor,” said U. Upadhyay, Surat’s fire and emergency services commissioner.
Officials said the fire spread through packed classrooms due to the building’s inflammable roofing.
All of the dead were under 20 years of age, according to the Reuters news agency.
In order to survive the fire, the students were forced to jump off the third floor of the building as the raging inferno razed down the complex.
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