Image: Vicitims of a wedding fire in India
Surya TV via Reuters
Rescue workers stand near victims of a fire at a wedding in the Hindu temple town of Srirangam, in southern India on Friday.
updated 1/23/2004 11:26:34 AM ET 2004-01-23T16:26:34

An apparent electrical short circuit ignited a fire Friday in a marriage hall in southern India, killing 45 people -- including the groom -- and injuring about 60 people, officials said. The bride was among the injured.

Some of the victims were burned in the flames, while others were crushed in a stampede down a narrow staircase, the officials said.

"Forty-five bodies have been recovered from the marriage hall," said K. Manivasan, the top administrator for Tiruchi district in southern Tamil Nadu state, where the fire broke out at 8:45 a.m.

"About 60 have been admitted to various hospitals, some with burn injuries and others with injuries sustained in the stampede," he said.

The bride, Jaishree Ramanathan, a schoolteacher, was in serious condition with burns, Manivasan said. The groom, Guru Raghavender, worked at an insurance company, he said.

Of the dead, 20 were women and six were children, he said.

The fire occurred in Srirangam, a famous Hindu temple town 200 miles south of Madras, the state capital.

District Police Commissioner Sunil Kumar Singh said the fire was probably caused by an electrical short-circuit. Press Trust of India quoted other police officers as saying that a string of garland lights that normally decorate Indian weddings had set fire to the building's thatched roof.

The chief minister of Tamil Nadu, J. Jayalalithaa, said payments of $1,100 will be made to the families of each dead person. Grants of $330 will go to people seriously injured in the blaze, and $130 to those with minor injuries, he said.

The Indian government commonly makes payments to victims of high-profile tragedies.

The wedding was taking place early in the morning because it was an auspicious day in the Hindu calendar, and marriage halls were fully booked in the town.

The building was 300 feet from the 10th century Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, the main attraction in the town.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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