At least 25 have reportedly been killed in a massive blast in a firecracker factory on Thursday in a village, nearly 5 kms from the district headquarters town of Balaghat in Madhya Pradesh.
Balaghat superintendent of police Amit Sanghi, while speaking to Hindustan Times, confirmed the deaths which include 20 women and 5 men.
There were 40 workers were inside the factory when the explosion took place. Investigations are being carried out, while some reports suggest that the fire might have been caused by the negligence of a factory worker who had thrown a half-burnt bidi at the crackers dump; the actual cause is yet to be found out.
A woman worker injured in the incident reported the matter to the local police that led the administration to launch the rescue operation. The rescue team had reached the site in 15 minutes but by then some of the bodies were charred beyond identification.
Out of the 10 injured workers initially, three of them died on spot. Three out of the seven injured have been rushed to Nagpur while two others are being treated in a hospital in the district.
According to Balaghat district collector Bharat Yadav, the cracker factory was being run illegally by one Waheed Ahmad Warsi. He added that many more workers could be gutted inside the factory.
An FIR has been lodged under section 304 of the Indian Penal Code that deals with culpable homicide against the factory owner who is absconding.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced a compensation of Rs. 2 lakh each to the next kin of the deceased. The state government would also bear the medical expenses of the injured.
There was a similar incident in Balaghat in 2015 where a blast occurred at a cracker factory, triggering a massive fire in the area. Around 12 houses were gutted in the incident.