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School blaze kills 90 children

From Satinder Bindra
CNN New Delhi Bureau Chief

more videoVIDEO
A fire devastates a school in India, killing dozens of children.

NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- At least 90 children have been killed in a massive fire at a school in southern India, officials said.

The dead included 44 girls and 46 boys, most under the age of 10, officials said.

Forty others were hospitalized, and 30 of those were in critical condition, said officials at Government Hospital in the town of Kumbakonam, where the school was located.

One official said the 900 students attending the school in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu may have had difficulty exiting during the fire.

The roof collapsed on an unknown number of children during the blaze.

Hospital officials said 70 of the children have been identified so far.

Preliminary reports indicate the fire started around 11 a.m. (1:30 a.m. ET) and may have been the result of an electrical short in the kitchen.

The flames then quickly spread to the thatched roof, which was largely made of leaves and other vegetation. Heavy winds fanned the fire.

The school is a girls' school, but such schools in India often admit boys in the lower grades.

Kumbakonam is about 185 miles (300 km) south of Chennai, formerly Madras, the state capital.

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