Fire burns down huts at Bru refugee camps in Gachhirampara, 185 km from the capital, Agartala. The devastating fire completely gutted Bru refugee camp where more than 2,500 huts were reduced to ashes. Kanchanpur, Agartala, Tripura, India. 19/03/2011
In one of the worst infernos in the eastern India more than 19 persons have been burnt to death and many were believed to be still buried under debris in a Reang refugee camp at Gachhirampara-Naisingpara in Tripura on Saturday noon.
Eyewitness put the death figure at 19. More than 100 persons were injured. Most of the deceased were children.
The devastating fire completely gutted Gachhirampara-Naisingpara Bru refugee camp in North Tripura on Saturday noon at around 12.10 pm.
The camp is located about 185 kms from Agartala and adjoining to Mizoram and 17 kms from Kanchanpur subdivision. There were 3700 inmates in the camp. The camp is located in several hillocks and all houses and huts were turned to ash in about 1 km radius.
Nepal Chandra Das, DIG Operations said, so far we have recovered 15 charred bodies. But many more bodies could have been still there”.
While, Subdivisional Magistrate (Kanchanpur) office sources said 16 charred bodies were recovered so far.
Of the deceased four are children, six women and four male inmates. Five seriously injured are being brought to GB hospital.
District magistrate of North Tripura Soumya Gupta and all senior district officials rushed to the camp.
Subdivisional Magistrate of Kanchanpur Dilip Chakma said, death toll likely to rise as the situation was virtually beyond control.
The camp for the displaced Brus- Reang tribesmen from Mizoram- was heavily crowded and there were virtually no water source in the dry hilly region.
The fire is suspected to have begun from a kitchen and immediately engulfed the series of thatched huts where the displaced Brus were sheltered.
Soon after the fire broke out Fire fighters from all adjoining subdivisions rushed to the spot but could not do much in absence of adequate water and the entire camp was reduced to ashes.
“The fire went beyond control immediately as the entire area is dry and windy. Worst is there is no water source near the camp to help the fire fighters. The Fire Service vehicles had to rush back to far off places for water and then return to the camp, which ultimately could not help douse the devastating flames”, said Amitabha Kar, DG Fire Service.
Sources from Gachhirampara- Naishingpara said, the main task for the fire service, policemen and security forces now seemed to have concentrated on recovering the bodies that could still have been buried in the burning debris.
“It was virtually hell fire of Biblical proportion. The flames kept on devouring huts after huts, acrid smoke billowed up and then covered the area. And then there was stench of burnt human flesh. It was a nightmare coming true even as Fire service, police, camp inmates and locals stood helpless in absence of water”, said Rajendra Reang, a local over telephone. He said minimum 500 huts were completely reduced to ashes.
“Besides humans chicken and pigs could not escape the hell fire. Deaths could have been many more had not the youths had already gone for jhum (shifting) cultivation”, he added.
“But so many deaths in a fire incident in the region is unheard of”, he added.
Senior official from Agartala started for Kanchanpur.
The Brus ( Reangs) had fled Mizoram on October 15, 1997 night following fierce communal riots between the Brus and Lushais ( Mizos) in adjoining North Tripura. They were sheltered in six camps in Kanchanpur subdivision since then. Several tripartite talks with active involvement of the Central government failed to ensure repatriation of the Brus to their homeland as Aizwal was overtly reluctant to take them back. At a point of time there were about 45,000 displaced Brus in the six camps. At present there are about 34,000 Brus in the six camps.