Russia fire tragedy families await bodies of students

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Mumbai, Feb 16 (IANS) Shocked and grieving families of the two girl victims of the Valentine’s Day fire tragedy in a Russian medical college hostel, await their bodies, family friends said here on Tuesday.

The students Pooja Kallur, 22, from Navi Mumbai and her room-mate Karishma Bhosale, 21, from Pune, perished in the fire which broke out in their hostel in the Smolensk State Medical Academy, Smolensk, around 380 km south-west of Moscow.

Smolensk is the home region of Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first human being to travel in outer space on April 12, 1961.

The duo belonged to the 2012 batch medical course and would have returned to India next year after acquiring a degree,.

Pooja was an alumna of the St. Xaviers School and Fr. Agnel’s Multipurpose School, while Karishma studied at the Seth Dagduram Katariya High School, Gultekdi in Pune.

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The Bhosale family last spoke with Karishma on February 14 at 12.30 a.m. and a few hours later, at 4.00 a.m., the incident was reported to have taken place in the room next door on the fourth floor of the six-storied dormitory.

The fire, believed to have been caused by an electrical short circuit, caught the mattresses and the two inmates of the neighbouring room ran out without alerting Pooja and Karishma sleeping in the neighbouring room.

It was only later that the families were informed by the college dean that the girls had died.

“Till Monday evening, the dean’s number remained switched off nor was there any communication from the university. Fortunately, we are getting good cooperation from the Indian Embassy in Moscow and they are informing us about the other procedures,” a family friend told IANS.

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Later on Monday, the incident was confirmed by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

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