- Published on Wednesday, 27 February 2013 16:45
CALCUTTA: At least 19 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 as others are thought to be trapped inside the building.
The blaze was contained in three hours and rescue operations are ongoing.
The fire in the paper and plastic market broke out early on Wednesday morning while some people were sleeping inside the complex.
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."
Khan also said the market was illegal and action would be taken "against the authorities for not having any fire safety arrangement".
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, visiting the scene, promised a full investigation.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 (RM11,553) for the families of those who died and 50,000 rupees (RM2,888) 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.
There have been several major fires in Calcutta in recent years.
In Dec 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.