Bhubaneswar: At least 11 students, including nine girls, were injured when a gas-filled balloon exploded near Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's residence here when they were on way to wish him on his birthday on Friday.
The mishap took place when a large number of students among others were proceeding to Naveen Niwas to wish the Chief Minister and a huge bunch of gas balloon carried during the procession exploded near Airport Square, Commissioner of Police R P Sharma told reporters.
Some people sustained minor injuries and they were rushed to hospital for treatment, he said.
As many as 11 persons, including nine girls and two boys, were undergoing treatment at the Capital Hospital after the explosion and all of them are stable, said hospital Superintendent Dr Binod Mishra.
"None of them is serious. Their condition is all stable. They sustained burn injuries on forehead, arms and other exposed parts of body," Mishra said adding they were being treated at a special ward.
Sources said most of the injured girls are from Ramadevi Women University here.
Police said efforts were on to ascertain the exact cause of the explosion but prima facie it appeared that the incident might have taken place after a splinter from a cracker burst by the rallyists fell on a balloon.
State Health Minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak, Law Minister Arun Sahoo and a host of leaders of different political parties visited the hospital to enquire about the condition of the injured.
Describing the incident as 'unfortunate', both Congress and BJP lashed out at the ruling BJD for absence of adequate safeguards and safety measures during the procession.
"It was unfortunate. I wish the injured students speedy recovery. But, it is surprising that such an incident took place near the CM's residence. No step was taken to prevent such mishap," said Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president Prasad Harichandan.
Holding the ruling BJD responsible for the mishap, state BJP spokesman Sameer Mohanty said the organisers failed to take any safety measures. Though the chief minister is also in-charge of home department, the police failed to take preventive measures during the celebrations near his residence, he said.