13 eunuchs killed in fire in India - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

13 eunuchs killed in fire in India

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People react after a major fire broke out at the site of a congregation of eunuchs in the Nand Nagri area of New Delhi, India, Sunday, Nov.20, 2011. (AP) People react after a major fire broke out at the site of a congregation of eunuchs in the Nand Nagri area of New Delhi, India, Sunday, Nov.20, 2011. (AP)

NEW DELHI (AP) — A fire tore through a makeshift tent at a gathering of thousands of eunuchs in the Indian capital on Sunday, killing 13 people and injuring at least 33 others, police said.

Emergency workers said the blaze was most likely caused by an electrical short and quickly spread through the tent, which was about 100 feet (30 meters) long.

The tragedy struck during a gathering of about 5,000 eunuchs for a prayer ceremony and feast held once every five years, said Shapo, an organizer of the event at a fairground in the Nandnagary neighborhood of east Delhi. Shapo, like many eunuchs, uses only one name.

Sunday was the first day of the 20-day event, said Ratna, an attendee.

One witness, Angelie, said there was a loud short, then flames suddenly erupted and a gas cylinder exploded. Crowds of people ran to the exit from the fairground, Angelie said.

The Press Trust of India news agency reported that local residents raced to the area to pull the injured from the blaze before police and fire fighters arrived. Police official Sanjay Jain said the fire killed 13 people and injured 33 others. It was not clear if all were killed by the fire or if some were trampled in the race to escape the flames.

India's estimated 700,000 eunuchs traditionally survive by begging, dancing at weddings, or blessing newborn babies, and frequently are subjected to discrimination.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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