Shillong, November 17
An elderly couple died when a century-old church and an adjacent house in Meghalaya’s capital were gutted in a devastating fire early on Sunday, police said.
The couple, residing in the house, could have died of asphyxiation and a preliminary investigation has ruled out vandalism, police said.
East Khasi Hills district SP Claudia Lyngwa said the incident was reported at around 4 am and three fire tenders were pressed into service to douse the blaze.
An investigation has been initiated to ascertain the exact cause of fire, Lyngwa said.
The 117-year-old church at Qualapatty area was reduced to ashes and the fire could be due to an electrical short- circuit as the church was undergoing large-scale repair work, the eyewitnesses said.
The church is located in the middle of a very densely populated area and is surrounded by many houses, the district police chief said, adding that the fire brigade officials faced difficulties to reach the spot as the road leading to the church is very narrow.
“As of now investigation is on. We are collecting all the details. As the church is very secured, there is little chance of vandalism,” Lyngwa said.
According to the SP, the couple could have died when they went inside their house to collect some valuables and inhaled smoke from the razing fire.
“Meghalaya woke up to the tragic news of the Church of God, Qualapatty being gutted in fire that also claimed lives this morning. The indigenous church is one of the oldest in the state. My prayers for the deceased and the Church of God family,” Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma wrote on his Twitter handle. — PTI
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