Explosion kills 89 at Petlwad town in Madhya Pradesh

Blast took place around 8.30 a.m. at a store where huge piles of explosive material used for mines were kept.


The blast site at Petlwad town in Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh on Saturday

Eighty-nine people were killed and nearly 100 injured when mining explosives stored in a building went off in Petlawad town in Jhabua of Madhya Pradesh on Saturday. The building in which the explosives were stored and an adjacent restaurant were destroyed and several houses damaged, officials said.

Block Medical Officer Urmila Choyal confirmed the casualties.

Rajendra Kasawa, who has the licence to use explosives for digging wells in rocky areas, stored them in huge quantities in the residential building having two shops, close to the busy Sethia Restaurant in the new bus stand area, a police official said.

Many daily wage labourers were seated near the restaurant when the explosion occurred. Many were inside the restaurant too, a witness said.

One of the injured, Narsingh (42), said body parts were strewn in the area after the blast.

“We have seen them flying and falling on the ground. Vehicles, especially two-wheelers, were badly damaged and lying on the road,” he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed pain over the loss of lives. “Extremely pained at the loss of lives… in Jhabua. My deepest condolences to the families of the deceased,” the Prime Minister tweeted.

In the evening, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan ordered a judicial inquiry.

He announced an ex gratia of Rs. 2 lakh each to kin of the deceased and Rs. 50,000 for those injured.

“We have performed autopsy on 60 bodies. The rest are lying on the premises for post-mortem,” Chief Medical Officer Arun Sharma said.

Workers killed

Among the victims were a large number of labourers who were waiting in area for their daily work.

Some people going to Gujarat were also standing near the hotel for tea and snacks and a majority of them were either killed or injured in the blast, a police official said.

Senior officials from Jhabua, including Superintendent of Police G.G. Pandey, and State Tribal Welfare Minister Antar Singh Arya rushed to the spot. A National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team was dispatched to help in the salvage 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,” Director-General, NDRF, O.P. Singh said.

Rajnath condoles deaths

Home Minister Rajnath Singh expressed condolences to the families of those killed in the incident.

“I have just received the information. The Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister is visiting the site. My condolence with the affected families. It was a very unfortunate mishap,” Mr. Singh said.

President Pranab Mukherjee has condoled the loss of lives in the explosion.

“I am sad to know about the gas cylinder explosion this morning in Jhabua district in which a large number of persons have lost their lives and many others are injured,” Mr. Mukherjee said in a message to Madhya Pradesh Governor Ram Naresh Yadav.