Update: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday announced ex-gratia of Rs two lakh for the kin of deceased and Rs. 50,000 for those injured in Balasore firecracker explosion.
Bhubaneswar: At least eight people were killed and twenty others seriously injured in an explosion at an illegal firecracker factory in Odisha’s Balasore district this evening, ahead of Diwali. It is apprehended that the number of casualties could go up as people are likely to be trapped under the debris of the house and rescue work is being hampered by rains triggered by a marked low pressure in the Bay of Bengal.
Balasore district collector Pramod Kumar Das said a huge explosion took place at around 4 p.m. when firecrackers were being made in a house at Bahabalpur, 12 km from Balasore. Six bodies have been recovered from the site. “The crackers were being made in an unauthorised manner without any legal license,” Mr. Das said.
Seven of the nine who sustained injuries in the blast have been transferred to the S.C.B. Medical College Hospital in Cuttack. The other two are being treated at the district headquarters hospital, he said.
Bahabalpur residents said the the impact of the explosion was so severe that the structure where the firecrackers were being made was blown up and suffered extensive damage. Most of the bodies were highly mutilated and difficult to recognise, they said. The owner of the firecracker unit also sold them from the premises, they said.
Mr. Das, the Superintendent of Police and other senior officials were at the site and supervising the rescue operation. Four fire tenders were pressed into service to extinguish the blaze and rescue the victims, while over a dozen ambulances rushed to the site to shift the injured to the hospital. Police said the exact cause of the incident would be ascertained after investigation.