Gas cylinders burst, fire still raging in Barabazar

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Kolkata, Jan 13 (UNI) As many as 30 Army firemen swung into action to fight the inferno even as the fire continued raging for the second day today at the country's busiest business hub, leaving one person dead due to shock.

The situation turned more complicated with the explosion of gas cylinders in the evening.

Thousands of shops and dwellings were engulfed in the fire, the most devasfating in living memory, destroying property worth billions of rupees.

The blaze, which destroyed at least eight buildings, broke out at 0115 hrs yeserday in the Tirpalpatti and Nandaram complex of Barabazar, and continued raging despite the efforts of 42 fire tenders, aided by the Army, Air Force and the Airports Authority of India (AAI).

A resident of Barabazar, Tej Narayan Baidya, died of heart attack today and police had to ward off an angry mob in the area with batons.

'' The Defence department assistance was requisitioned yesterday itself. We have entered the main building on the fire by fighting the inferno floor by floor. A team of 30 Defence firemen with fire-fighting clothes is now fighting the blaze, '' Defence spokesman Cap R K Das said.

Amid fears of the building crashing, all residents of nearby houses had been evacuated.

''We fear for our fire fighting men. There is huge heat generated inside from the debris. We can hardly progress much, '' West Bengal Fire Minister Pratim Chatterjee said adding there were diesel barrels inside and the generator room had also caught fire.

''The fire is raging on the top floors of the Keshoram block of Nandaram market building. The building can come crashing down any moment,'' said a resident.

Mr B D Mimani, secretary of the local trade organisation, said 99 per cent of the traders had not insured their shops and would have to rebuild their lives from scratch.

Though there was no casualty, the inadequacy of the fire fighting system was laid bare as the Army, Air Force and the airport authorities had to be called in to control the blaze, but not with much success.

Eds: Pls pick up suitably from earlier series.

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