10 Guilty in India School Fire that Killed 94 Students
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New Delhi -- An Indian court has convicted 10 people in the deaths of 94 children after a 2004 school fire. This case brought to light the poor fire regulations in India.
The owner of the school, his wife, the headmaster, and a meal planner were among the ten convicted in culpable homicide and endangerment. Eleven other defendents were acquitted.
This case brought attention to the woefully low fire protection and safety measures in private schools in India. Many lack fire sprinklers and alarms. This particular school had no firefighting equipment and poor exits.
A surviving student blames the "carelessness of the teachers" for the deaths. Madhumita said, "If they had considered the children as their own children, they would have saved us, but they only acted selfishly." His sister died in the fire; none of the teachers died.
The fire started when lunch was being prepared on a log fire. The flames spread through the three-story building, and trapped hundreds of children (ages 4-10).
Many of the children were burned beyond recognition. The fire was so devastating, it brought down the roof made of bamboo and coconut leaves. The children who didn't die from the fire itself either suffocated from the smoke or were trampled to death.
The school's staff had no training for disaster management.
The ten people who were convicted are expected to be handed their sentences today.