Fire in tutoring center kills 19 students in western India

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Firefighters work to douse flames on a building in Surat, in the western Indian state of Gujarat, Friday, May 24, 2019. At least 17 teenage students were killed in a fire that broke out Friday in a four-story building, police said. Television images showed some students jumping from the building to escape the blaze with a thick smoke billowing from the building. (AP Photo/Sarju Parekh)

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NEW DELHI (AP) — At least 19 teenage students were killed in a fire that broke out Friday in a tutoring center in the western Indian city of Surat, a top state official said.

More than a dozen students were hospitalized with burns or suffering from suffocation, police officer Praveen Chaudhary said.

The students were attending a class when the fire broke out in the four-story building, Chaudhary said. He said all of the students had been accounted for.

Gujarat state’s top elected official, Vijay Rupani, said 19 youngsters died in the fire.

“I’m told these youngsters were trapped in the building as the fire destroyed the staircase. Around three to four died after they jumped off the building,” Rupani told The Press Trust of India.

Two dozen fire engines battled the blaze, fire officer Deepak Satkale said. Authorities were investigating the cause of the fire.

The fire engulfed the third and fourth floors of the building in a shopping district, The Press Trust of India said.

Television images showed students jumping from the building to escape the blaze, with thick smoke billowing from the building.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was anguished by the fire. “Have asked the Gujarat Government and local authorities to provide all possible assistance to those affected,” he tweeted.

Building fires are common in India because of poorly enforced safety regulations.

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