Two houseboats go up in flames

Two houseboats go up in flames

One person was killed when two houseboats went up in flames in Kerala's tourist location of Alappuzha. Investigations are on to establish the cause of the fire, police said Thursday.

"Three houseboats were docked at the site. Two were gutted in the fire. The third was moved away before the flames could reach it.

A casual worker who was sleeping in one of the boats died," said Tomy Pulikattil, a leading houseboat operator in Alappuzha who witnessed the fire.

Five fire engines fought the blaze. 

The loss is estimated at Rs.70 lakh.

"We are given to understand that the fire was caused by a leak in a cooking gas cylinder in the kitchen of one of the houseboats," said Pulikattil.

The cause of the fire, however, will only be known with certainty once investigations conclude.

The accident happened at a time when tourists were visiting the state in large numbers in view of Onam. More than 400 houseboats in Alappuzha have been serving visiting tourists.

Locals heaved a sigh of relief that the damage was restricted to two houseboats.

The accident comes close on the heels of the explosion in a tanker carrying liquefied petroleum gas at Kannur Monday, leaving six people dead by Thursday morning.

Seven houses and 15 shops went up in flames in that explosion. 

State Home Minister T. Radhakrishnan said the age of all vehicles plying in the state will be checked, to prevent such mishaps in future.