JUST IN: Death toll in Odisha’s cracker factory blast rises to 8

Representative image. Source: AP

Bhubaneswar, Oct 19 (PTI): The death toll in the explosion at an illegal firecracker factory in Odisha’s Balasore district rose to eight today, with two more persons succumbing to burn injuries, officials said.

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

Seven of the injured had been shifted to Sriram Chandra Bhanj (SCB) Medical College and Hospital at Cuttack.

“Seven of those injured in the explosion had been received at our hospital and of them, two persons with critical burns died during treatment,” Superintendent of SCB Medical College and Hospital, Prof Shyama Kanungo, said.

She said a medical board comprising specialists from different departments, including surgery and plastic surgery, has been formed to ensure proper treatment for the five injured persons, whose condition is highly critical.

Source: Odisha TV

In the aftermath of the explosion, Director General of Police R P Sharma suspended Santosh Behera, the Inspector In- Charge of Bahabalapur marine police station, for dereliction of duty.

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

Six persons, whose bodies were recovered, had died on the spot, Balasore district collector Pramod Kumar Das said.

“The crackers were being made in an unauthorised manner without any legal license,” Das said.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had announced Rs two lakh each as ex-gratia for the families of those killed in the explosion. He also said Rs 50,000 would be given as assistance to those who suffered critical injuries and free medical treatment would be provided to all 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 personnel, fire brigade and Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Froce (ODRAF) were present at the site. Forensic experts were also being sent to the spot, police said.

Locals said 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 severely burnt and difficult to recognise, they said. Police said the exact cause of the incident would be ascertained after the investigation.

-Source: PTI, edited by Aruni Sunil