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|Monday, August 06, 2001, updated at 14:52(GMT+8)|
Fire Destroys Mental Asylum, Killing 25 in South IndiaAt least 25 mental patients were charred to death and five others injured in a fire that broke out early on Monday at an asylum in Ramanathapuram, a coastal city about 2,600 km south of here, the Press Trust of India (PTI) reported.
When the fire broke out around 5 am local time, the agency quoted police as saying, most of the inmates of the asylum, numbering over 40, were chained as per normal practice.
Fifteen bodies had already been recovered as far and the death toll was likely to go up, PTI added.
The fire, suspected to have been caused by a lamp burning in one of the shelters housing the patients, was brought under control after two-hour battle by the fire brigade and local people.
Most of the bodies were charred beyond recognition, police said, adding that an alarm raised by some of the inmates earlier were ignored by local people and the owner of the private hospital.
There are reportedly over 1,000 mental patient in about 15 mental asylums, mostly private ones, around the coastal city in the state of Tamil Nadu.
These asylums came under close scrutiny of the National Human Rights Commission following reports that the inmates were being chained and treated in an inhuman manner.
The previous government of the state had ordered a probe into the running of the asylums and also arranged for the transfer of psychiatric patients to the government hospitals for free treatment.
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