A powerful explosion occurred in Petlawad town of Jhabua district in Madhya Pradesh in which over 89 people have died and over 100 are said to be injured. The explosion took place when a huge pile of explosives kept inside a building in Petlawad went off.
The incident occurred in a busy residential area at around 8.30 am on Saturday morning.
“So far, 82 people have been killed in the explosion and till now,” said Chief Medical Officer Dr Arun Sharma to PTI.
Earlier in the day, there were reports that the explosion was caused by a cooking gas cylinder kept in an adjacent three-storeyed building.
Eyewitnesses say that an adjacent building and number of other houses in the vicinity were badly damaged in the high-impact explosion that compounded the tragedy.
According to AR Khan, the Sub Divisional Officer of Police in Petlawad, the explosion took place at a store in the building where huge piles of explosive material used for mines were kept.
Rescue work is on and several people are being pulled out from under the debris, Jhabua District Magistrate Aruna Gupta told PTI. The injured are being rushed to a nearby hospitals.
The death toll can rise further and we can give out the exact number of casualties only after the rescue operation is over, said Divisional Commissioner Sanjay Dube.
A National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team was dispatched to Jhabua to help the district administration in the rescue operations.
“A team equipped with gadgets to operate in collapsed structures has been sent to the accident site in Jhabua from Vadodara in Gujarat.The team will assist local administration in retrieval operations,” NDRF Director General OP Singh told PTI in Delhi.
Senior officials from Jhabua including Superintendent of Police GG Pandey, State Tribal Welfare Minister Antar Singh Arya are at the spot. The state government which is said to be monitoring the situation has also ordered a high-level inquiry.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each to the kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for those injured.
“I am saddened by the incident. I express my condolences. I have directed the Minister in-charge to go to the spot. The administration has reached the spot. I have asked the Principal Secretary to skip the Hindi Sammelan and arrange treatment for those injured in the blast. I am in constant touch. The incident is sad and has left me shaken. The reasons for the blast will be investigated,” the Chief Minister said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also expressed his grief over the loss of lives in the explosion.
“Extremely pained at the loss of lives due to the cylinder blast in Jhabua. My deepest condolences to the families of the deceased,” said the PM on twitter.
“Wish all those injured a speedy recovery. MP Government is monitoring the situation closely,” he tweeted.
(With inputs from PTI)