- The building was a commercial complex which also housed a tuition centre
- The tuition centre catered to school children from Class 9 to Class 12
- Many students panicked due to the fire and jumped off the windows
At least 18 people have died, including students aged between 14 to 17, when a coaching centre in Surat caught fire. According to initial reports, the building was a commercial complex which also housed a tuition centre which catered to school children from Class 9 to Class 12. Reports suggest since the summer vacations were on, the students who were preparing for their Class 10 and Class 12 boards exams were in the coaching centre at the time of the incident.
Initial reports suggest that many of the children trapped in fire panicked and jumped as fire engines battled the blaze. Many children reportedly died of the fall.
Videos recorded by witnesses on social media showed several students jumping off the third and fourth floors of the building.
The fire engulfed the top two floors of the multi-storey commercial building called Taxshila Complex, officials said. Huge plumes of smoke covered the area. Local residents were seen helping in the rescue operation.
The operation to douse the fire is still on.
"Students on fourth and third floor jumped off to the ground to save themselves from fire and smoke. Many have been rescued and sent to hospital. The operation to douse the fire is on," the fire official told news agency PTI.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed anguish at the tragic incident.
"Extremely anguished by the fire tragedy in Surat. My thoughts are with bereaved families. May the injured recover quickly. Have asked the Gujarat Government and local authorities to provide all possible assistance to those affected," he tweeted.
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has also tweeted on the tragedy.
"Deeply saddened by the news of Surat fire tragedy. Instructed officials to do needful. My prayers are with all those affected. May those who have been injured recover at the earliest. I pray for the departed souls. Om Shanti." he tweeted.
With inputs from PTI