7 Feb 2024

Harda Firecracker Factory Blast Update: Large stones rained down like shells, says witness; smoke still rising from debris, intense heat makes rescue difficult

Harda Blast Update: Harda. A massive explosion occurred at a firecracker factory situated in Bairagarh village, just three kilometers from Madhya Pradesh's Harda district headquarters, resulting in a massive fire on Tuesday morning. The explosions, powerful enough to propel iron equipment and concrete up to two hundred meters, continued intermittently for about an hour, causing numerous injuries and claiming the lives of 11 individuals. Witnesses have described the horrifying experiences with one of them telling that large stones rained down like shells after the blast.

A total of 172 people sustained injuries, leading to their admission to various hospitals, including those in Indore, Bhopal, and nearby districts. Chief Minister Dr. Mohan Yadav has formed a high-level three-member committee to investigate the incident and is scheduled to arrive in Harda today to assess the situation.

The fire, originating from the firecracker factory, persists for the second day, with smoke still emanating from the debris. The intense heat poses challenges for rescue workers in clearing the wreckage. NDRF and SDRF teams are actively engaged in firefighting and cooling operations on-site.

Police have apprehended Rafiq, another suspect related to the factory accident, and are currently interrogating him. Rafiq is reported to be the brother of a Congress councilor.

Witnesses Describe a Hail of Stones

63-year-old Narmada Prasad Rathore shared his experience, stating that the explosions caused large stones to rain down like shells, creating a hazardous environment. The impact of the stones was so forceful that even thick walls were pierced, causing damage to properties and injuring residents.

Devastation Extends 600 Meters Away

Residents living approximately 600 meters from the firecracker factory reported extensive damage to their homes, forcing them to flee for safety. The aftermath left holes in walls, damaged baths, and destroyed household items. The debris from the explosion even damaged sheets and iron shutters of nearby tin sheds.

Scenes of Destruction

The area surrounding the firecracker factory is now a scene of devastation, with debris, broken tin sheets, burnt items, and completely destroyed mango trees and vehicles visible. The fields adjacent to the factory have turned into piles of debris, resulting in the loss of crops.

NDRF Team Mobilized from Varanasi

A 35-member NDRF team from Varanasi reached the factory site on Wednesday morning to assist in the removal of debris. Ambulances and Poklane machines are on standby to expedite rescue operations and transport any persons found under the debris to hospitals promptly.

Impact on Surrounding Areas

The explosion's effects were felt far beyond the factory site, causing damage to nearby houses and destroying crops in fields adjacent to the firecracker factory.

Debris Removal Ongoing, Smoke Persists

The first explosion occurred around 11:15 am on Tuesday, reducing the firecracker factory to debris. While the fire has been extinguished, debris removal is still underway, and smoke continues to rise from certain areas.

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