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Rescue still on after Gurdaspur cracker factory blast killed 23

The explosion had also damaged buildings nearby, shattering windowpanes and even bringing down the roofs of a couple of them

By PTI
  • Published 5.09.19, 11:50 AM
  • Updated 5.09.19, 11:50 AM
  • a min read
  •  
Onlookers seen at the site after the blast in a fireworks factory in Gurdaspur district on September 4. PTI

Batala: Rescue operations on Thursday continued at a firecracker factory site where 23 people are feared killed and 27 were injured in a powerful explosion here, officials said.

Teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were trying to find out any person still trapped under the debris, they said.

Twenty-three people were killed in a blast at the firecracker factory located in a residential area on Jalandhar road at Batala in Gurdaspur district on Wednesday around 4 pm.

The explosion had also damaged buildings nearby, shattering windowpanes and even bringing down the roofs of a couple of them. The explosion was heard several kilometres away, residents said.

Several factory workers, some family members of the factory owner and a few passerby were killed in the explosion, officials said. Seven critically injured were referred to Amritsar medical college.

After the post-mortem, the bodies will be handed over to the families of victims, they said.

Tempers ran high at the civil hospital where some family members sought action against those officials for failing to ensure closure of the firecracker factory despite repeated requests.

They also raised slogans against the district administration.

In 2017, a blast had happened in the same factory, residents said, while claiming several complaints were submitted to the district administration in the past for the closure of the factory, but to no avail.

Batala Senior Superintendent of Police Opinderjit Singh said the exact cause of the blast could be ascertained after the probe.

A forensic team from Chandigarh will soon reach the site to take samples, officials said.

The Punjab government has already ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident.

An ex gratia of Rs 2 lakh for the kin of the each deceased and Rs 50,000 for the each of the seven severely injured had already been announced.