At least 11 killed in MP firecracker factory blast; factory owners arrested

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Bhopal, Feb 7 (IANS) At least 11 people died while around 200 were injured, with many of them battling for their lives, in Tuesday’s fire incident which was triggered by a blast at a firecracker factory in Madhya Pradesh’s Harda district.

Police arrested the two owners of the factory in the evening, hours after the tragic incident.

The severity of the blast was captured in a video, showing debris striking people filming the incident, highlighting the chaotic aftermath of the explosion. Two youths capturing the blast on their mobile phones were seen running away, saying that they made a “big mistake” by arriving there.

The fire that broke out in the factory quickly engulfed several houses located in the surrounding area. The fire was doused jointly by the SDRF and firefighters after hours of effort.

The rescue teams are still searching for bodies amid the debris and the number of causalities may go up further as many have received severe burn injuries and are being treated at different hospitals.

Those who received critical burn injuries were taken to AIIMS Bhopal through a green corridor set up by the police.

Chief Minister Mohan Yadav after inspecting the situation and meeting with persons admitted in the AIIMS said that 10 bodies were recovered till 5 pm. However, the toll that was reported late at night has gone up to 11.

Factory owners Rajesh Agrawal and Somesh Agrawal were arrested and interrogated by the police.

Harda district administration sealed that firecracker factory in September 2022 following a relentless protest from villagers. However, later Agrawal brothers (owners) got a stay against the sealing order from the District Commissioner’s office.

The factory was spread on two acres of land in Bairagarh village in Harda district; around 150 km from the state capital Bhopal. At least 300 people used to work in the factory. As per the information, around 40 families, of those working in the factory, were living within its campus.

Chief Minister Yadav sent three senior bureaucrats, including the Home Secretary, and a cabinet minister to the spot for inspection on Tuesday evening. Later, he formed a three-member committee to investigate the matter.

After meeting with people admitted with severe injuries at a hospital in Bhopal, the Chief Minister said he would visit the spot on Wednesday.

Since the incident was reported, Yadav chaired a series of meetings with officials and gave several instructions to the administration, including seeking reports from all cracker factories operating across the state. All District Collectors have been asked to submit their reports within the next 24 hours.

The Opposition Congress expressed grief over the incident and raised several questions on the Mohan Yadav-led BJP government.

State Congress President Jitu Patwari along with the Leader of Opposition (LoP) Umag Sighar met the people admitted at Hamidia Hospital.

During the budget session of the state Assembly which will begin on Wednesday, the Opposition is likely to corner the ruling BJP with allegations of negligence.

–IANS

pd/sha

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