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Asansol: A couple has died and their two daughters are battling for life in hospital due to suffocation caused by a hearth left ignited last night to the beat the cold wave that has gripped several districts in Bengal.

The incident has taken place at Durgapur in West Burdwan district. The victims have been identified as Paresh Bauri (52) and Sheela Bauri (44).

The Bauri couple lived in their two-room house at Durgapur’s Kururia Danga area with two minor daughters and an adult son. With Durgapur shivering under a cold wave for the past few days, last night the couple and their daughters went to bed keeping a hearth ignited. Their son Tapas Bauri went to bed in the other room.

Today morning Tapas woke up to find that the room of his parents was still bolted from inside. This astonished him as his parents and sisters usually wake up much before him. He knocked repeatedly on the door but got no response.

Following this, Tapas broke open the door to find his parents and sisters lying unconscious on the bed and the room filled with smoke. With the help of neighbours, he rushed all of them to Durgapur Sub-divisional Hospital, where doctors declared his parents dead on arrival. The two sisters were admitted in a critical condition.

Police have referred the couple’s dead bodies for post-mortem so to ascertain the exact cause of death. This is despite that circumstantial evidence suggests they died of suffocation as the lighted hearth had eaten up oxygen in the room and no air vent was open for the carbon dioxide to go out.