- Footage showed a tower of flame following the explosion at the fireworks plant
At least eight people were killed and 80 injured in a huge explosion at a fireworks factory in India on Tuesday that saw balls of flames shoot into the sky, officials said.
Footage on Indian television showed a tower of flame after the explosion at the firecracker plant, with dozens of ambulances dispatched and army helicopters called in to evacuate the wounded.
Senior district police officer Rajeshwari Mahobia said there had been “eight deaths so far and around 80 injured” at the factory in Harda in Madhya Pradesh state, adding that “the death toll is likely to rise.”
Images of the factory site showed a wasteland of black and smoking rubble.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Mohan Yadav said reports of the explosion were “very sad news” and said medics at burn units in nearby major hospitals had been called to make “necessary preparations”.
Footage on Indian television shows a tower of flame after the explosion at the fire cracker plant in Harda in Madhya Pradesh state
“Ambulances are being rushed to Harda from the surrounding areas, and the Army has been contacted to arrange for helicopters,” Yadav said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.
At least 20 ambulances were on the scene, with another 50 sent to help the injured, he added.
Manish Sharma, a surgeon at the Harda District Hospital, said the center was flooded with a stream of casualties.
“We have eight deaths at our hospital, a total of 90 people have been admitted here so far and we have referred 15 of them to a bigger hospital,” Sharma told AFP.
“As more people are rescued from the site, they are brought here.”
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was “appalled by the loss of life”, and said the government would give the families of those killed $2,400 each in compensation, and $600 to those injured.
Kailash Chand Parte, a senior district official coordinating rescue efforts from the factory, said fire tenders were battling the raging fire.
“The fire is still not under control and we have about 15 fire engines and many rescue workers on site,” Parte said.
He said between 200 and 300 people worked at the factory, but it was not known how many were inside at the time of the explosion.
‘At least 10 buildings around the complex where the blast took place were damaged due to the intensity of the blast,’ he added.
One policeman told the Times of India that the dead included those who were trampled during the panic to escape the raging flames.
Some died during the “rush after the blast”, local police official Abdul Raees Khan told the newspaper, adding rescue teams were “yet to reach the actual blast site as (the) fire is going on”.
Explosions often occur in fireworks workshops in India.
Fireworks are very popular in India, especially during the Hindu festival of Diwali, as well as for use during wedding celebrations.
But many factories do not adhere to basic safety requirements and operate without permits.
In 2019, at least 18 people were killed in a fireworks factory explosion in Batala in the state of Punjab, and another 10 were killed in Bhadohi in Uttar Pradesh in the same year.