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MUMBAI: A fire at an electric scooter showroom in India killed at least eight people and sent seven more to hospital, police said on Tuesday, at a time of growing concerns about the safety of the vehicles.

A spate of fires this year in electric scooters has alarmed the government, keen to promote their use in its fight on pollution. Early investigations have identified faulty battery cells and modules among the main causes.

Monday’s fire broke out in a hotel basement housing the showroom in the southern city of Secunderabad, police said, but it was brought under control and an investigation launched. “There were electric scooters parked where the fire started,” city police official Chandana Deepti told Reuters.

“We don’t know if it started because of overcharging and then spread or whether it started elsewhere. That is still being established.”

The identity of the dealer and the make of scooters being sold was not immediately clear.

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Police and firefighters used equipment such as cranes to pluck stranded hotel guests from upper floors of the four-storey building as smoke billowed out of its windows, media images showed.

“Those staying on the first and second floors were overpowered by smoke and the maximum casualties are from those floors,” C.V. Anand, the police chief of the neighbouring city of Hyderabad, told Reuters partner ANI.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was saddened by the deaths and promised compensation for the casualties in the fire.

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