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5 Arrested for Negligence Following India School Fire - 2004-07-17

Five people have been arrested and face charges of negligence for the deaths of at least 88 children in a school fire in India's Tamil Nadu state. Health workers meanwhile are trying to cope with scores of other children who were badly injured in Friday's blaze.

Officials say those arrested include the principal, two administrators and two kitchen workers from the Lord Krishna Middle School in the town of Kumbakanom.

Preliminary reports suggest the fire began when an electrical short circuit set a thatched roof on fire, which then collapsed on scores of students. Most of the victims were between six and 11-years-old.

Hospitals in the area remain overwhelmed by the dead, the dying, scores of injured, and their distraught parents.

A man said his daughter did not even want to go to school that day.

A woman said she has lost her daughter forever. She has lost everything.

Families have begun to bury or cremate the remains of their children. Many bodies, however, have yet to be identified.

This was the second major fire tragedy in Tamil Nadu this year. More than 50 people died in January in a fire in a wedding hall.

Local media are reporting allegations that teachers fled the fire without helping students, and that exit doors were bolted shut. Local officials say they will investigate the incident, while senior officials from New Delhi are flying to Kumbakanom to visit the site of the disaster.