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Fire guts Calcutta market, 1,000 shops destroyed but no casualties, police say

CALCUTTA, India - Police and fire officials say a huge fire raged through a market in the east Indian city of Calcutta early Saturday, causing no casualties but destroying more than 1,000 shops and homes.

CALCUTTA, India - Police and fire officials say a huge fire raged through a market in the east Indian city of Calcutta early Saturday, causing no casualties but destroying more than 1,000 shops and homes.

City Police Commissioner Gautam Mohan Chakraborty says it was not clear what started the blaze in the early hours of the morning in Burrabazar, Calcutta's famous wholesale market area.

The local fire brigade director says a 3,700-square-metre area was engulfed in flames that also destroyed some nearby homes.

The blaze was still raging midday Saturday, and officials say they don't yet know how many people have been affected.

Angry residents and shopkeepers shouted at police and fire officials because fire services took more than two hours to arrive.

Chakraborty says 42 fire engines were now battling the blaze but that they had been delayed initially buy a water shortage in the city.

West Bengal state Fire Minister Pratim Chatterjee said the traders who had stored flammable articles illegally in the congested area were responsible for the inferno.

"In an old city like Calcutta we perhaps cannot prevent fires like this, but at least we have been able to save human lives," he said.

Fires are common in India where safety regulations are often flouted.

 
 
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