At least 19 students – most of them female – were killed on Friday in a fire at a building housing a college in the city of Surat in western India, officials said. Some victims jumped from the building to escape the blaze.
“The students lost their life both because of the fire and jumping out of the building,” Deepak Sapthaley, a fire official in the western city of Surat, told AFP.
Sapthaley added that 50 or 60 people were inside the coaching institute on the top floor of the building, which is several storeys high, when the blaze began.
The cause was not yet known.
“The toll has jumped to 19 and includes 16 females. Sixteen persons died because of burns and three others from injuries after they jumped,” Jayesh M Patel, medical officer at Surat Municipal Institute of Medical Education and Research, told AFP.
Officials had initially given a toll of at least 15 dead.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who comes from Gujarat state where the fire broke out, said on Twitter: “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.”
Local officials said that the fire spread quickly because of the material used in the roof.
It started Friday afternoon when classes were packed, mostly with teenagers.
Local media reports said the toll could still rise further as many students were undergoing treatment at local hospitals.
– with reporting by AFP