Massive fire destroys nearly 500 thatched huts in Indian capital; 7 hospitalized for burns

A massive fire destroyed nearly 500 thatched huts in a New Delhi slum Friday, depriving the already impoverished residents of their homes.

Seven people were hospitalized for burn injuries, fire department official Shyam Lal said.

The blaze reduced nearly half of the shantytown to smoldering piles of thatch and charred debris — plastic bottles, tarps, rubber tires and scraps of wood.

Fanned by a breeze, the fire raged for two hours before dozens of fire engines doused it, a resident told the TimesNow television channel.

The cause of the fire was being investigated, Lal said.

Slum fires are usually sparked by charcoal cooking or electrical short circuits from the many thousands of illegal power connections. Shantytowns in India are mostly built illegally without any safety standards.