Midnapore, June 10: Four persons died and six received severe burn injuries when stray sparks triggered the crackers they were making at a fireworks fair and competition at Gangasagar village, about 75 km from the East Midnapore headquarters of Tamluk, early this morning.
Police have arrested two persons, said to be organisers of the fair. The local tradition is to usher in the monsoon with a grand display of fireworks. A large number of amateur and professional fireworks enthusiasts gather every year to take part in the fair that has been hosted by Gangasagar for some time.
Sources said the fireworks went off around 3.30 am when an expended cracker shell landed near a room where they were stored and sparks from it fell inside. Police said the victims were among the competitors waiting in the room for their turn in the show that began at three in the morning. The room had a large stock of fireworks and gunpowder.
“The competition was being held in the playground of a primary school and the fireworks were stored in a nearby house. The wind carried the sparks into the room, causing the explosion,” said Egra sub-divisional police officer Anjan Chakraborty. Raids were on to arrest other organisers as the fair was being held without permission, he added.
Police sources said the room is being guarded so that experts could come tomorrow and ascertain the amount of explosives stored there. The bodies could not be identified possibly because the competitors had come from far-flung areas, they added.