Dozens killed in deadly amusement park fire in Gujarat, India

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At least 27 people have died in a major fire at a popular amusement park in western India.

The deadly fire broke out on Saturday in the park in the city of Rajkot in the state of Gujarat. At the time of the tragedy, over 300 people were in a two-story building.

State Police Commissioner Raju Bhargava confirmed that the fire was under control and rescue operations were underway.

Since it was a summer holiday weekend, the park was particularly busy. According to local reports, several children were killed in the inferno.

“People were trapped when a makeshift structure of the facility near the entrance collapsed, making it difficult for people to come out,” Rajkot district collector Prabhav Joshi told reporters.

Horrifying footage of the incident shows firefighters desperately clearing debris around the collapsed metal roof structures, which local media said were used as a bowling alley, go-kart and trampoline facility.

A case of negligence will be filed against the owner of the amusement park, Yuvraj Singh Solanki, the police commissioner confirmed.

“We will record the negligence and the deaths that occurred as a criminal offense,” he said.

“Further investigations will take place once we have completed the rescue operation.”

It took the rescue workers almost an hour to extinguish the fire. A dozen ambulances took the injured to nearby hospitals.

According to the fire department, a short circuit was suspected to be the cause of the fire.

Police at the scene said the bodies of those killed showed “severe burns,” making identification difficult.

The cause of the fire is currently being investigated.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote on X that he was “extremely shocked by the fire … in Rajkot. My thoughts are with all those who have lost their loved ones. Prayers for the injured.”

Unfortunately, fires are common in India due to poor construction practices, overcrowding and lack of safety regulations.

In February, 11 people were killed in a fire at a paint factory in New Delhi, and in 2022, at least 27 people died when a major fire broke out in a four-story commercial building in the city.

In 2016, more than 100 people were killed in a violent explosion during a banned fireworks display in the southern state of Kerala.

Close to home

More than four decades have passed since the tragic fire at the ghost train in Sydney’s Luna Park in 1979.

The incident was the worst tragedy in an Australian theme park to date.

On the evening of June 9, 1979, shortly after 10 p.m., a small fire was first discovered deep in the aging decorations of Luna Park’s ghost train.

The ride quickly caught fire, claiming the lives of Waverley College students Seamus Rahilly, Richard Carroll, Jonathan Billings and Michael Johnson.

Damien and Craig, as well as their father John Godson, also perished in the fire. Mr. Godson was found trying to protect his sons from the inferno.

It took less than 24 hours for the police to classify the tragedy as an accident and attribute the fire to an electrical fault.

Barely nine hours had passed since the last body had been removed from the charred cart when the lead investigator made a startling statement.

“The origin of the fire is completely suspicious,” said Doug Knight, an inspector with the New South Wales Police. Four witnesses came forward and said they saw sparks in the roof.

“We are now convinced that the fire was caused by an electrical fault in the building.”

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