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Last Updated: Monday, 10 April 2006, 17:51 GMT 18:51 UK
Dozens killed in Indian inferno
Officials say the fire may have been caused by a short circuit.

At least 45 people have been killed in a fire that swept through a crowded trade fair in the northern Indian city of Meerut, officials say.

Police say at least 80 more people were injured, some seriously, in the blaze before it was brought under control.

Hundreds of people were inside three huge tents at the fair complex when they were engulfed by flames.

Bodies are still being recovered from the site. Eyewitnesses said many victims were burnt beyond recognition.

Dead bodies are strewn around, most of them are charred beyond recognition
Eyewitness Prakash Arya

An Uttar Pradesh state police spokesman told the BBC that the fire at the site in the city's Victoria Park had been caused by an electrical short circuit.

At least 20 fire tenders were called in to tackle the blaze as ambulances ferried the injured to nearby hospitals.

Plastic roofs

Local journalists say there were more than 2,000 people at the consumer electronics fair in Meerut, about 80km (50 miles) north-east of the national capital Delhi, when the fire broke out at about 1800 Indian time (1230 GMT).

Map
The fair was being held in three long, air-conditioned tents with just one exit each. The tents had plastic roofs supported by iron rods.

TV footage showed smoke billowing out of the tent and flames spiralling into the air as large numbers of bodies and injured people were carried from the blaze.

"Dead bodies are strewn around, most of them are charred beyond recognition. The bodies were dumped into truck, jeeps and ambulances and taken away from public glare," one eyewitness, Prakash Arya, told the Associated Press news agency.

The state's Chief Minister, Mulayam Singh Yadav, has expressed "deep sorrow", and a spokesman said he would visit the city on Tuesday.

A BBC correspondent says that there is total confusion at the scene, and nobody knows the whole picture as the authorities are still clearing the site and counting bodies.

The exact number of injured was unclear as they have been taken to various hospitals in the city.

Our correspondent says hundreds of people are at the scene searching for their relatives and friends who went to the fair.

Paramilitary forces have also been deployed.

Medical teams and burn specialists are being rushed into the city from adjoining districts and the state capital, Lucknow.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
See the aftermath of the fire at the trade fair



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