Fire breaks out at Kumbh Mela; one killed, several tents gutted

Fire breaks out at Kumbh Mela; one killed, several tents gutted

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Allahabad:  One person has died in a fire that broke out early this morning at the Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad. An amateur eyewitness video shows a raging blaze and the trail of destruction it left behind at the Nirmal Akhada in sector 4 of the mela venue.

Almost 30 make-shift tents set up to house pilgrims were gutted by the fire that broke out at around 2 am. It has since been doused. "As soon as we saw the fire break out, we all rushed out of our tents. That helped keep casualties to the minimum," an eyewitness told NDTV. Two people have sustained minor injuries.

Senior Superintendent of Police RKS Rathore said that prima facie the fire was caused by a short circuit and the person who got killed was "probably fast asleep and could not run out of his tent before getting engulfed by the flames".

Lakhs of devotees are present at sangam - the holy confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna, and mythical Saraswati rivers in Allahabad - on the occasion of Basant Panchami today, an auspicious day to take a holy dip or snan. This is also the last of the three auspicious shahi snans at this edition of the Maha Kumbh.

There is a massive deployment of security forces at the venue today to manage the sea of devotees. In a bid to avoid overcrowding at the Allahabad railway station, authorities are allowing pilgrims to enter and leave the venue in batches.

Arrangements at the Allahabad railway station have also been shored up with medical teams posted on every platform.

This year's Maha Kumbh has witnessed a series of tragedies. Last week, 36 people died in a stampede at the Allahabad railway station, which was packed beyond capacity with pilgrims attending the mela. Three crore people were in Allahabad on Sunday, on Mauni Amavasya, believed to be the most auspicious day of the Maha Kumbh, which takes place once every 12 years. In a separate incident, two people died in a stampede at the mela venue on the same day.

A fire had previously broken out on January 25 at the mela; 19 people were injured in that blaze, of which five subsequently succumbed to their injuries.

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