updated 12/7/2005 12:56:21 PM ET 2005-12-07T17:56:21

Fire engulfed a tent in which Pakistani earthquake survivors were sleeping, killing seven members of the same family including four children, police said on Wednesday.

The cause of the blaze on Tuesday night in Banser village in North West Frontier Province was believed to have been a candle or an electrical short circuit, said police official Mohammad Nadeem.

“They were asleep in a tent in the courtyard of their house,” Nadeem said.

Four of the victims were dead when police arrived at the scene and three of them died in a field hospital, he said.

The Oct. 8 earthquake killed more than 73,000 people, most of them in the Pakistani Himalayas. About three million people lost their homes.

Hundreds of thousands of people are living in flimsy tents next to the ruins of their houses across the region while tens of thousands have moved into cramped tent camps that have sprung up in towns and along main roads.

Alarm over incident
The United Nations, helping to organize a huge earthquake relief operation, was alarmed by the deaths and was working with Pakistani authorities to prevent more fires, a spokesman said.

“We are really concerned this doesn’t happen again ... We need to be on the look-out,” said U.N. spokesman Ben Malor.

Afghans, with years of experience of surviving bitter winters in refugee camps on Pakistan’s western border, were being brought in to teach tent survival skills as part of information campaigns about the dangers of fire, Malor said.

A woman and several of her children were injured in a tent fire last week, soon after the winter weather closed in.

The four children killed in the Tuesday night fire were aged between three and eight. Their mother and two grandparents were also killed. An eight-year-old daughter was injured, Nadeem said.

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