New Delhi, India — The roof of a schoolhouse caved in under driving rains in Punjab state Friday, killing at least seven children, and police reported an explosion in Calcutta claimed at least nine lives.

  1. P. Joshi, deputy inspector general of police, told the Press Trust of India a roof beam in the schoolhouse, nearly eaten away by white ants, collapsed during the heavy monsoon rains.

The domestic news agency said the accident occurred in Malerkotla in Sangrur District, about 150 miles north of New Delhi, just as children entered the school at 7:30 a.m.

Police said the victims — four girls and three boys — ranged in age from 5 years old to 7 years old.

Twelve other children were injured in the incident, including two girls and a boy who were reported in serious condition, the news agency said.

The deaths boosted to 102 the number of people killed in rains and floods in Punjab and neighboring Himachal Pradesh during the past two weeks.

In Calcutta, police said a powerful blast at a fireworks factory killed at least nine people and injured three others. The blast occurred as workers were assembling fireworks and could be heard a mile away. The explosion in the Chandernagore neighborhood ripped through a wall and blew off a portion of the factory’s tiled roof, police said.

Six employees died on the spot, their bodies seriously burned in a fire triggered by the blast. Three others died at a local hospital, police said.

Firefighters quickly controlled the blaze and police sealed off the factory. The Press Trust of India said police were searching for the factory owner and his wife, both of whom reportedly fled.

Article extracted from this publication >>  August 9, 1985