‘Tragedy foretold, common thread’: How papers covered the twin tragedies in Delhi, Gujarat

The Rajkot blaze was the main report in the Ahmedabad edition of the Indian Express while the Delhi edition’s main headline was on infant deaths.

WrittenBy:NL Team
Many are missing after the blaze in a Rajkot recreational centre.

It was, as a Times of India editorial noted, a “horrifying weekend”. At least nine children were among 27 killed in a fire at a Rajkot gaming centre while seven babies died after a blaze at a private children’s hospital in Delhi.

The news made it to prominent English dailies, with details about alleged violations of safety regulations, the official response, the good samaritans, and the families of victims.

A look at how the reports were placed in Delhi and other editions of some papers.

The Indian Express

The front page of both the Ahmedabad and Delhi editions featured the incidents as their lead package. The Rajkot blaze was the main story in the Ahmedabad edition.

Meanwhile, the slug above the headline in the Delhi edition noted “irregularities” as “a common thread” to the “twin tragedies”.

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The Hindustan Times

The front page of the Delhi edition placed the Rajkot blaze in two single column reports. The Jaipur edition gave it more space while keeping the Delhi fire as the main story.

The toll linked to the Delhi blaze was different on the front pages.

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The Times of India

The Delhi edition featured seven reports on the front page about the two incidents.

The Ahmedabad edition had a half-page ad on the front page, but managed to carry two big pictures from the two incidents.

An editorial noted that it was a “tragedy foretold”.

“Post-tragedy, Indian authorities are all too efficient at making arrests, filing FIRs, hand wringing, chest-beating, announcing compensation – while courts do their thing. In a few months’ time, little would have changed and in all likelihood, it’ll be business as usual. Owner of the Rajkot facility that operated in tin sheds has been arrested for culpable homicide, as it should be. The tragedy was one waiting to happen.”

“Oxygen cylinders exploding triggering fatal fires, as was the case in the Delhi hospital yesterday, are nothing new for commercial premises, even though their storage is supposed to be strictly regulated. The Mumbai billboard tragedy is a recent case of criminal negligence. It is when authorities turn away from brazen flouting of norms that fatal accidents occur. In fire after fire or bridge collapses – Morbi (135 deaths), Kollam temple fire (109 deaths, 2016), Varanasi flyover collapse (at least 18 deaths, 2018), or Delhi’s Mundka fire (27 deaths, 2022) – at fault is official oversight, lax enforcement of safety norms and audits, and lack of accountability for low-quality construction and maintenance across India,” it noted.

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The Hindu

The Delhi edition reported about both the incidents on its front page. Both were three-column reports though the Delhi fire was the lead font.

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The incidents were reported on the front page but only in the briefs column. The main story was the touchdown of cyclone Remal.

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The news also made it to the front pages of prominent Hindi dailies, from Dainik Jagran to Amar Ujala.

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