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Principal Arrested at Indian School Where At Least 80 Children Died in Fire - 2004-07-16


At least 84 school children have been killed in a fire in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Officials say the fire broke out in the kitchen and quickly spread to another part of the complex.

They have arrested the principal of school Local officials say they believe the blaze was caused by a short circuit in the school electrical system that created sparks that started a fire.

"The fire apparently broke out on a kitchen site with a thatched roof," explained J. Radakrishnan, a government official in the town of Kumbakonam, in the state of Tamil Nadu, where the fire took place. "The relief operation is fully on."

The fire is considered an accident. It broke out at 11:00 a.m. local time at Lord Krishna Middle School, attended by roughly 900 students most aged six to 11.

Local television reports show crowds of concerned parents standing in narrow streets clouded with smoke.

Mr. Radakrishnan says officials will launch an investigation into the incident, and why so many children were not able to escape the fire. He speculated that it might be because the school is three stories high and located in a densely populated neighborhood.

The town of Kumbakonam is renowned for its temples, located on the banks of the Cauvery River some two-thousand kilometers south of the Indian capital New Delhi.

Officials are now trying to locate the families of the children killed or injured in the blaze.

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