Calcutta illegal market hit by deadly fire

Fire crews at the scene of the fire in Calcutta, India (27 Feb 2013) Many people were sleeping inside the complex when the fire broke out

Related Stories

At least 20 people have been killed in a fire that swept through an illegal market in the eastern Indian city of Calcutta, police officials say.

The Surya Sen Market was housed in an old multi-storey building in the crowded Sealdah area of the city.

Several people were also seriously injured, and officials say the death toll could rise.

The deadly blaze was contained in three hours and it is thought there is no one left trapped inside.

The fire in the paper and plastic market broke out early on Wednesday morning while some people were sleeping inside the complex.

The head of the fire services Gopal Bhattacharya told AFP news agency that they "found dozens of people lying unconscious with severe burns" and that most of the victims had suffocated in their sleep.

Toxic gases were also released from the flammable materials present in the building, which hampered the rescue operations.

State Fire Services Minister Javed Khan told AFP: "The market has only one exit point and those who stayed in the market at night were trapped after the fire broke out."

Mr Khan also said the market was illegal and action would be taken "against the authorities for not having any fire safety arrangement".

'Unplanned buildings'

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, visiting the scene, promised a full investigation.

Rescue workers carry a victim"s body wrapped in plastic bag after a fire at an illegal market in Kolkata Officials said the building did not have adequate safety measures in place

She said there were many such illegal or "unplanned" buildings in the city and that "no-one follows any safety norms".

She announced compensation amounts of 200,000 rupees ($3,714; £2,461) for the families of those who died and 50,000 ($930; £610) rupees for the injured.

At least 25 fire engines were sent to the scene and the injured were taken to nearby hospitals.

The reason for the fire remains unknown, but some local officials said a short circuit due to faulty electrical wiring could be to blame.

A police investigation into the cause is now underway and Ms Banerjee said they will have a report ready within three days.

There have been several major fires in Calcutta in recent years.

In December 2011, around 90 people died in a blaze at a hospital. A year before that, 43 people died in a fire at the historic St Stephen's Court building on the city's Park Street.

In 2008, more than 2,500 shops were destroyed in a huge fire at one of the city's largest markets.

Are you in the area? Please send us your comments using the form below

Send your pictures and videos to or text them to 61124 (UK) or +44 7624 800 100 (International). If you have a large file you can upload here.

Read the terms and conditions

If you are happy to be contacted by a BBC journalist please leave a telephone number that we can contact you on. In some cases a selection of your comments will be published, displaying your name as you provide it and location, unless you state otherwise. Your contact details will never be published. When sending us pictures, video or eyewitness accounts at no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws. Please ensure you have read the terms and conditions.

Terms and conditions

More on This Story

Related Stories

More India stories


Features & Analysis

  • Man holding lipWitch hunt

    The country where a blasphemy charge is a death sentence

  • Espresso cupNews quiz

    Which city serves the strongest cup of coffee?

  • Irvine WelshDeaf ears

    Five famous Scots who can't vote in the Scottish referendum

  • Electric chairReturn of 'the chair'

    Five people talk about their roles in Tennessee's execution debate

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • Canada.Hidden rail trip

    Canada's tiny, two-car shuttle is a train lover's dream with scenic views


  • A cargo shipThe Travel Show Watch

    It is not cheap or glamorous - so why are people choosing to travel by cargo ship?

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.