Odisha cracker factory blast toll rises to 11

Odisha cracker factory blast toll rises to 11
The death toll in an explosion at an illegal firecracker factory in Odisha's Balasore district rose to 11 today with five more persons succumbing to burn injuries, while a police officer was suspended for the tragedy.

The massive explosion at the illegal firecracker factory at Bahabalpur had claimed six lives and left nine persons seriously injured last night.

The injured were shifted to the Sriram Chandra Bhanja (SCB) Medical College and Hospital at Cuttack, officials said.

Of the nine injured, five with critical burn injuries died during treatment, said Prof. Arun Choudhury, chairman of the medical board which was constituted to ensure a proper treatment of those injured in the cracker factory blast.

The Superintendent of SCB Medical College and Hospital, Prof. (Dr) Shyama Kanungo, said the medical board comprising specialists from different departments, including surgery and plastic surgery, was formed as the condition of those injured in the explosion was highly critical.

The four injured, with very high degree of burns, were currently undergoing treatment at the hospital.

In the aftermath of the explosion at the illegal cracker manufacturing unit, Director General of Police (DGP) RP Sharma has suspended Santosh Behera, the inspector in-charge of the Bahabalpur marine police station, for dereliction of duty.

The explosion took place last evening when firecrackers were being prepared in the illegal factory at Bahabalpur, around 12 km from the district headquarters town of Balasore.

Six persons had died on the spot and their bodies were recovered, Balasore District Collector Pramod Kumar Das said.

"The crackers were being prepared in an unauthorised manner without any legal license," he had said.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, while expressing concern over the incident, had announced Rs two lakh each as ex-gratia for the kin of the deceased.

He had also said Rs 50,000 would be given as assistance to those critically injured and free medical treatment would be provided to all the injured persons.

Terming the incident as unfortunate, Patnaik ordered stringent action against those responsible for the explosion.

An inquiry into the incident has been launched and police, fire brigade and Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) personnel were present at the site. Forensic experts were also being sent to the spot, the police said.

Locals said the impact of the explosion was so severe that the structure, where the firecrackers were being prepared, was blown up and that it suffered an extensive damage.

Most of the bodies were severely burnt and difficult to recognise, they added.
The exact cause of the incident would be ascertained after the investigation, the police said.
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