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Phulbani: A 73-year-old tribal woman was charred to death in a forest fire in Odisha's Kandhamal district on Wednesday, police said.

The deceased was identified as Ramabati Pradhan of Bali village under Raikia Police Station limit.

She came in contact with the fire while engaged in collecting 'Mahua' flower, one of the major forest produce in the village forest this afternoon, said Tapantaruna Behera, the Inspector-in-Charge of Raikia Police Station.

The tribal people across the state earn their livelihood by collecting forest produce from forests. Mahua flower is used in making country liquor. The victim as usual had gone to collect the flower and got entangled in the fire, police said.

Though people rushed her to the nearby government hospital at Raikia, she could not be saved. The body was sent for autopsy and the matter is under investigation, police said.

The district United Citizens Forum, Kandhamal has strongly criticised the incident and alleged that it was due to the inaction and callousness of concerned forest officials who failed to control and douse the forest fire that broke out in many forests for days together.

The death of Ramabati Pradhan came close on heels to a similar death of a forest guard near Similipal National Park in Mayurbhanj district.

On Sunday Jadu Mohanto (58), a contractual guard engaged by the State Forest Department was caught in a fiery whirlwind while trying to douse the fire in Jodibill Reserve Forest and was burnt alive.

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