House fire kills five family members in Kerala

Police are investigating cause of the blaze

Firefighters take part in an annual fire drill competition on March 9 in Mumbai, India. Getty

Five family members, including an infant, were killed in India’s southern Kerala state after their two-storey house caught fire in the early hours of Tuesday.

Prathapan, 62, his wife Sherly, 53, their youngest son Akhil, 20, eldest daughter-in-law Abhirami, 29, and her eight-month-old son Rayan were killed after a massive fire broke out in their house in Varkala at around 2am.

The couple’s eldest son, Nikhil, sustained burns while trying to escape.

He was rushed to hospital and put on a ventilator. His condition remains critical.

The fire completely gutted the house and three motorbikes parked on the porch.

Neighbours raised the alarm after they spotted smoke coming from the house. One tried to alert the family on the phone but there was no response, police said.

The victims may have died due to smoke inhalation, they said.

“We reached the spot around 2.10am and the house was still on fire...the bodies were found in their bedrooms. It seems they died of suffocation," Ajit Kumar, sub-inspector at Varkala Police Station, told The National.

Four teams of firefighters were deployed. They managed to break open the door and entered the building, which was filled with thick, black smoke.

The fire-fighters battled for nearly half an hour to douse the blaze, Mr Kumar said.

The exact cause of the fire is not known but a short-circuit could be the reason. A lack of ventilation and a false ceiling made of gypsum board may have aggravated the fire.

Police are investigating the incident with the help of electrical and forensic experts, Divya Gopinath, a senior police officer said.

"We cannot talk about the cause of the fire. The forensic and electrical teams are examining and based on their report and technical evidence we would arrive at a conclusion soon,” Ms Gopinath told The National.

Updated: March 08, 2022, 12:33 PM