Officials say the students died after a massive blaze at a coaching centre in western Gujarat state's Surat city.
At least 18 students were killed when a fire broke out in a four-storey commercial building in the city of Surat in India's western state of Gujarat on Friday, police said.
Television footage broadcast by private channel NDTV showed people jumping off the top floor of the Takshashila building or trying to escape by climbing down, as thick smoke billowed out.
Most of the dead were students who had been attending class at a tuition centre housed in the building, according to the spokesman for the office of Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani.
"The fire started near the staircase, so they could not get down," Joint Commissioner of Police Harikrishna Patel said, adding that all of the dead were aged below 20 years.
The blaze, likely caused due to an electrical short circuit, started between 3:45-4:00 pm local time and spread rapidly, Patel said.
At least 18 students killed in India blaze pic.twitter.com/xELFcUxoTy— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) May 24, 2019
TV footage showed people trying to grab a large banner on the side of the building as they plummeted down.
Rupani has ordered an inquiry into the incident and asked Mukesh Puri, principal secretary of the urban development department, to submit a report within three days, the spokesman for his office said.
Extremely anguished by the fire tragedy in Surat. My thoughts are with bereaved families. May the injured recover quickly. Have asked the Gujarat Government and local authorities to provide all possible assistance to those affected.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 24, 2019
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter he was thinking of the bereaved families.
"Extremely anguished by the fire tragedy in Surat," Modi said.
"May the injured recover quickly," he said, adding he had instructed authorities to help those affected.