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Woman, three kids charred to death as hut catches fire

Investigations reveal a kerosene lamp flipped over and spread the flames in the Sewri shanty

A fire broke out at a tin shanty in a slum cluster in Darukhana, Powder Gali, Sewri around 4.30 am yesterday, claiming four lives. A 31-year-old woman was asleep next to her three young children in their shanty, when in the blink of an eye, the hut was on fire. Anita Patra died at the spot with her one-year-old son Pradeep and five-year-old daughter Pujashri.

The gutted unit at the Darukhana slum at Powder Gali, Sewri
The gutted unit at the Darukhana slum at Powder Gali, Sewri

Her eldest child, Laxmi (7), was rushed to a hospital, after the neighbours saw her struggling to breathe. But, she had suffered 100 per cent burns and couldn’t survive either. Pujashri was admitted at 5.30 am to JJ Hospital and declared dead at 11 am, after which her post-mortem was conducted. “The cause of death was extensive burns,” said the JJ dean Dr T P Lahane.

Meanwhile, the bodies of the other three members of the family were taken to KEM Hospital for post-mortem. Vikas Patra, father of the children, a taxi driver by profession, was not at home when the incident occurred. “I have lost my world. I was saved only because I was on duty (driving). Had I not been working today, I wouldn’t have been alive,” he said.

“The fire started after a kerosene lamp tipped over in the room. It could have fallen due to the movement of rats,” said Krishna Prakash, additional commissioner of police (south). A case has been registered at Sewri police station. “We tried our best to douse the fire, but before we could do anything to save them, the damage had been done. We were unaware that the family was inside,” said Mohammad Khan, one of Patra’s neighbours.

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