Nashik/Mumbai: At least three people were killed and 11 others were injured when a powerful explosion ripped through a housing building in Nashik Wednesday, police said. Several people are feared trapped under the debris.
Police have ruled out the possibility of any explosive device behind the blast that occurred in the congested Panchvati area of the city Wednesday afternoon.
"As per preliminary investigations, the use of any kind of explosive device or gelatin sticks is not indicated. We are awaiting detailed reports," Maharashtra`s Director General of Police Ajit Parasnis told agency in Mumbai, 180 km from Nashik.
He said that the investigators are checking out the antecedents of the seven shops located on the ground floor of the building, including a cyber-cafe and a jewellery shop.
Parasnis also said that police are probing whether one of the vehicles parked near the Saptashringi Building in the congested residential locality of Panchvati had illegally stored a stock of fire-crackers.
Three persons were killed on the spot when the powerful blast ripped through the residential building with 11 flats and seven shops around 3 p.m.
Another seven people sustained injuries and have been admitted to a nearby government hospital, while four more, who suffered minor injuries, were treated in private clinics, police said.
Nashik Police Commissioner Vinod Lokhande said two floors of the three-storeyed building collapsed under the impact of the blast and one motorcycle was thrown more than a hundred feet away.
"While bodies of three persons have been retrieved from the debris, several more are still feared trapped and injured," Lokhande told reporters soon after the blast.
Several other vehicles parked in and around the building were also damaged.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Home Minister R.R. Patil, Tourism Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, state Congress chief Manikrao Thakre and senior officials rushed to the city in the evening to take stock of the situation.
The state government announced an ex-gratia of Rs.1 lakh to families of the dead and Rs.50,000 for those injured in the explosion.
The government also dispatched two teams of the Anti-Terrorist Squad to assist the local ATS team in the probe.
Besides, teams of senior police officials, bomb squad, dog squad, six fire tenders and a disaster management team from the district collectorate were rushed to the spot.