At least 14 eunuchs were killed and over 40 others injured on Sunday evening when a major fire swept through an east Delhi community hall where a congregation of the community was taking place.
The fire erupted at around 7 p.m on Sunday evening when the three-day all India sammelan of the transgender community was about to conclude, police and fire brigade officals said.
They said prima facie the reaon for the fire appear to be a short circuit in the kicthen area and that the fire spread from there.
The tents erected on the grounds of the community hall were completely gutted and the entire premises were engulfed in flames.
Fire brigade officials at the site said 12 bodies were pulled from the gutted tents and two succumbed to their burn injuries at the Guru Teg Bahadur hospital in Shahadra.
They also said the mandatory permission for holding the event was not sought from the fire department.
As the fire spread, people ran helter-skelter searching for a safe zone but many got trapped in the fire and lost their lives, police said.
Locals said they heard the huge cries of people and came out and saw that the entire community hall premises engulfed in flames.
The locals also tried extricate trapped people till the police and fire service personnel came and began the rescue operations.
The congregation, which has been going on for the past three days, had begun at around 1 PM today and the participants were dancing and enjoying the evening when the fire took place. Today was the last day of the congregation.
spital authorities feared that the toll could go up further because many of the injured have suffered grievous burn injuries.
Delhi government tonight ordered a thorough probe into the fire incident. Delhi Health Minister A K Walia said Deputy Commissioner(Revenue) of East Delhi J P Sharma has been asked to invesitage the incident and file his report to the state government at the earliest.
Nearly 1000 eunuchs had gathered at the community hall for the celebrations.
The fire brigade officials said the rescue operations began within ten minutes of the call received regarding the fire incident and it got over within one hour.
They said most of the bodies were recovered from near the gate, indicating that they were either trying to escape from the spot or trying to save those who were trapped.
The officials quoted the organisers as saying that nearly 1000 people had gathered for the function.
Delhi Health Minister A K Walia said the injured were being treated at various hospitals and that the rescue operations were over.
After the incident, the rescued people were sent to a nearby park.
The eunuchs, apparently agitated, also chased the media away from the venue saying they don’t need their help.
The people, who were rescued from the site, also alleged that the authorities were not informing them about the number of people dead and injured in the incident.
They also alleged that the authorities were indulging in a “cover-up” operation.
“We were rescued and brought outside the community centre but we don’t know what has happened to some of our friends who we think are still inside. Police are not giving us the right information... They are even taking the bodies out from here through the back door of the hall,” a person, who was rescued from the site, said.