23 killed in firecracker factory blast in Punjab

‘The factory was running sans adequate safety apparatus’

Several people were feared trapped under the debris, they said, adding that the rescue operation was underway. (Image courtesy ANI/Twitter)

At least 23 people were killed and many others were injured in a massive blast that took place inside a firecracker factory in Batala town of Punjab’s Gurdaspur district late this afternoon.

A fire inside the factory ignited the huge stock of firecrackers kept inside, leading to the blast. A probe has been ordered. 

Many workers are feared to have been trapped under the debris. An elaborate rescue operation is underway to pull out them out.

The firecrackers were to be used for celebrations for a Sikh religious festival on Thursday. The owner and a few of his family members were inside the factory when the blast took place, sources said.

Compensation

Locals said the blast was so powerful that it damaged many buildings and cars in the vicinity. A huge crowd descended in panic, close to the factory as the news about the tragedy spread out. “I am deeply anguished to learn about the loss of lives due to the blast in the firecracker factory in Batala. Rescue operations are underway with the deputy commissioner and senior superintendent of police heading the relief efforts,” said Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. He announced an ex-gratia grant of Rs 2 lakh for the kin of the deceased, Rs 50,000 for the seven severely injured and Rs 25,000 for those with minor injuries.

Fire tenders, ambulances were rushed to the spot. Mangled bodies were cleared from the spot by volunteers and rescue teams. The factory is in a residential area. Sources said this is the third time in the last few years that a blast has occurred in the factory. If the allegations are to be believed, the factory was running sans clearances and adequate safety equipment.

President Ram Nath Kovind tweeted, “Saddened to learn about the loss of lives due to an explosion at a firecracker factory in Batala. Condolences to bereaved families impacted by this tragedy and wishing an early recovery to those injured.”

Actor and Gurdaspur MP Sunny Deol tweeted: “Saddened to hear about the news of blast in Batala factory. NDRF teams and local administration has been rushed for rescue operation.”

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