At Least 23 Killed In Punjab Factory Blast
Customers buy fire crackers and fairy lights at a stall in India. (Photographer: Sanjit Das/Bloomberg) 

At Least 23 Killed In Punjab Factory Blast


Twenty-three people were killed while 27 have been injured in a blast at a firecracker factory in Batala of Gurdaspur district on Wednesday, an official said. Several people were feared trapped under the debris, police said, adding that the rescue operation was underway.

Several people were feared trapped under the debris, they said, adding that the rescue operation was underway.

The incident took place around 4 p.m. at the factory located in a residential area, Inspector General (Border Range) SPS Parmar told PTI.

Teams of the National Disaster Response Force and the State Disaster Response Force have been deployed for the rescue operation.

Senior officials of the district administration and police have reached the spot to take stock of the situation.

Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident. The Additional Deputy Commissioner (Batala) had been asked to conduct the inquiry into the tragic incident, an official release said.

Amarinder Singh also directed Rural Development and Panchayat Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa to immediately rush to the spot and oversee the relief and rescue operations.

An ex gratia of Rs 2 lakh forthe kin of the each deceased and Rs 50,000 for the each of the seven severely injured, who were referred to the Amritsar medical college, was announced. The government also announced Rs 25,000 for those with minor injuries.

Punjab CM directed both the civil and police administration to extend all possible help to the victims' families in this hour of grief.

He also directed the Deputy Commissioner to provide the best possible treatment to the injured free of cost besides asking the SSP to supervise the evacuation operations being carried out by the NDRF team. Punjab Jails Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhwala, along with senior officials of the district administration and police, took stock of the situation.

The impact of the blast was such that a few nearby buildings were damaged. The explosion was heard a few kilometres away, locals said. DC Ujjwal said the immediate priority of the administration was to save those still trapped under the debris. "We are trying to find out if anyone is missing," Ujjwal said.

Some of the local residents claimed that several complaints were submitted to the district administration in the past for the closure of the factory.

Earlier in the day, the CM expressed shock over the loss of life in the blast. "Deeply anguished to learn the loss of life due to the blast in the firecracker factory in Batala. Rescue operations are underway with the DC and the SSP heading relief efforts," Amarinder tweeted.

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