19 die in Tripura refugee camp fire

More than 20 people received burns and more than 2,500 huts were reduced to ashes in the camp, 165 km north of here. The blaze started around noon at the Naishing Para Reang refugee camp, one of the six camps set up in the Kanchanpur sub-division in North Tripura district.

"We have recovered 19 bodies. The flames continue to rage in the makeshift camp," Kanchanpur Sub-Divisional Magistrate Dilip Chakma told IANS over phone. Some of the critically injured have been flown to hospitals here.

Chakma said: "The exact death toll would be known after the debris are cleared. We fear there might be more bodies in the rubble." Several fire engines have still been battling the fire, which is suspected to have been sparked by a forest fire.

"The Reang refugees as part of their 'Jhum' cultivation (slash and burn method of cultivation) started a fire in the nearby jungle. From there the fire spread to the refugee camp," district police chief L. Darlong told IANS. Over 34,000 Reang tribals, locally called Bru, have been living in six camps in Kanchanpur since 1997. They fled western Mizoram after ethnic clashes with the Mizos following the killing of a Mizo forest official.

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