Bandra blaze leaves over 2,000 homeless

Mumbai: At least 21 people were injured and over 2,000 people, including `Slumdog Millionaire` child actor Rubina Ali, rendered homeless in the big fire which was controlled in the wee hours today in suburban Bandra here.

"A total of 21 persons including 4 firemen were injured while fighting the flames which broke out last night. They have been admitted to the Bhabha hospital here," a fire official said.

However, no death has been reported so far. But over 2,000 people have lost their homes as hundreds of shanties were destroyed in the blaze, he said.

The family of Rubina, who played the role of young Latika in Danny Boyle`s Oscar winning film, watched helplessly as their dwelling unit in the crowded slum went up in flames.

"We all were at home watching TV, when a neighbour came to alert us about the fire. We all rushed out. We spent the entire night at the railway station. I have lost everything including books and precious belongings like photographs, newspaper clippings and memorabilia of the film," the 12-year-old child artiste said.

"So far nobody has come to help us," she rued.

Rubina`s father Rafiq said, "We feel relieved to see that all our family members are safe. But all the good memories of my daughter`s fame have been reduced to ashes. We have lost everything."

The fire broke out in Garib Nagar slums near Bandra (East) railway station at around 2020 hours yesterday after which 34 fire engines and 16 jumbo water tankers were rushed to the spot.

The flames were doused around 12.30 am. The exact cause of the fire has not been established but initial reports say five gas cylinders exploded in the slums due to which the fire spread quickly, the official said.

In June 2009, a similar fire broke out in the vicinity of Behrampada, claiming several lives.