80 refugee huts burnt to ground
Publisher: The Katmandu Post
Author: Chetan Adhikari
Story date: 05/12/2012
Language: English

DAMAK, Dec. 5 – A fire engulfed a Bhutanese refugee camp in Beldangi, Jhapa, on Tuesday, destroying more than 80 huts. About 600 refugees have been homeless in the wake of the inferno.

Police said that the fire started at Hut No 21 occupied by Tirtharaj Poudel in Sector C 4 in Beldangi II. According to witnesses, the blaze had been triggered by the explosion of a cooking gas cylinder.

The fire broke out at around 1:30pm. It took two hours for four fire engines, security personnel and the locals to douse the fire. The security personnel and the locals pulled down 35 other huts to stop the fire from catching other huts.

There was no human casualty. However, the fire killed scores of animals and poultry in the camp. "It is too early to ascertain the total loss of property as we are assessing the damage," said camp Secretary DB Subba.

The fire victims were complaining about the damage. Some said cash and documents including those for third country settlement were destroyed.

"The fire burnt Rs 300,000 and killed two goats," lamented Ratna Bahadur Adhikari. The victims are taking shelter at the local Panchawati Secondary School. The children and the elderly are shivering in the cold.

District Administration Office, Jhapa, provided Rs 2,000 to each of the families whose huts were burnt down. The local administration gave Rs 1,500 to each family whose huts were pulled down.

Meanwhile, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the World Food Programme and other donor agencies held a meeting and decided to take initiatives to provide food, shelter and clothes for the needy.

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