Houseboats catch fire on a lake popular with tourists, killing 3 in Indian-controlled Kashmir

SRINAGAR, India (AP) — A massive fire Saturday engulfed several wooden houseboats anchored in Indian-controlled Kashmir’s popular Dal Lake and three charred bodies were recovered from the wreckage, officials said.

The three were tourists from Bangladesh who were staying on one of the gutted houseboats, the police said in a statement.

Five houseboats and some huts embedded in water were reduced to ashes in the intense blaze that was extinguished after nearly two hours by fire engines in Srinagar, the main city in Indian-controlled Kashmir, said Mir Aqib, a fire officer.

The cause of the fire is being investigated. Aqib said some cooking gas cylinders exploded after the blaze started in the houseboats where tourists from outside Kashmir come and stay.

Some houseboats anchored nearby were removed from the site, police said.

Boat rides in Dal Lake are very popular with tourists who also stay there during their visit to Srinagar, the main city in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since British colonialists gave them independence in 1947. Both countries claim Kashmir in its entirety and have fought two wars over its control.