His Majesty The King in Phuentsholing to console victims

Disaster: His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen travelled to Phuentsholing from Thimphu yesterday upon hearing the news of the tragic fire accident in Phuentsholing.

His Majesty The King granted an audience to the victims of the fire who are temporarily housed at the Youth Development Fund hostel and expressed his deepest concerns to the affected families.

The fire that started around noon killed two boys and completely gutted  12 makeshift huts along the Toorsa embankment near the automobile workshop area.

The fire lasted for about two hours.  The families lost most of their belongings.

Although not yet confirmed, electric short circuit and LPG leakage is suspected to have sparked the fire.

The bodies of the two children were recovered from the ashes around 4pm yesterday. Thromde and dungkhag officials including some people from the locality helped recover the bodies.

Kuensel learnt that the children, a three-year-old and a four-year-old boys were in one of the huts, locked from outside when the incident occurred. The mother of the three-year-old had gone to the hospital. The four year-old was her sister’s child.

Neighbours said that the child was left with the aunt on September 8 after his mother left for Gelephu. His parents were recently divorced.

A shopkeeper whose shop was also razed to the ground said that the fire started from one of the huts after which it spread to the hut where the children were locked inside. Police, Army, desuups and thromde and dungkhag officials helped the victims contain the fire.

“Many LPG cylinders blasted,” he said. “It was difficult to stop the fire as all houses were constructed with bamboo.”

The Phuentsholing police are still investigating the cause of the fire.

As most women in the locality brew alcohol, some neighbours suspect that the stoves could have been left unattended.

The Toorsa embankment is infamous for illegal settlements. A majority of these settlers come from low-income group forcing them to build makeshifts structures. Among the 12 houses, most structures were constructed illegally. Many school going children also reside in the area.

The Army, police and desuups helped the victims construct temporary sheds yesterday.

Rajesh Rai, Phuentsholing