Four children, including three of a family, were burnt alive in a devastating fire early on Saturday at Kakdwip in the South 24-Parganas district. The hut, in which the children were asleep, was reduced to ashes even before neighbours could start a rescue operation.
Later, the fire brigade retrieved the four charred bodies. The victims were identified as Shilpi Das, 17, her two sisters — 12-year-old Durbabala and one-year-old Pinky — and their neighbour Bani Singha, 14.
Sub-divisional police officer Amitabha Verma said the sisters were alone at their home in Uttar Gobindopur village when the incident occurred. Their mother had died a few years ago and father Chaitanya Das was out in the sea fishing. “On Friday night, Shilpi had called Bani to stay with them. Bani would give them company at night whenever their father went out for fishing,” he added.
According to preliminary investigations, the fire started after a kerosene lamp, kept in a corner of the hut, overturned. Clothes hanging nearby caught fire and soon the flames spread to the thatched roof.
“The fire spread so fast that the children failed to run out of the hut, which was gutted in 10 minutes,” Verma added.
Neighbours rushed to the site when the children raised an alarm. They brought water from a nearby pond to sprinkle on the hut, but the blaze had already gone out of control.
“We were helpless and the four children died in front of our eyes,” said Ratan Lal Biswas, a neighbour.
Fire personnel from Kakdwip reached the spot an hour later with two fire tenders. The bodies have been sent for post-mortem.
Two set ablaze
A group of extortionists locked up an ex-armyman’s wife and son in their house and set it on fire in North 24-Parganas on Friday night. Nirupama Mullick, 35, and her three-year-old son Bikranta were admitted to Bongaon Hospital with severe burns, police said. They were shifted to a city hospital on Saturday morning after their condition took a turn for the worse.