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Death toll in Gurdaspur factory blast jumps to 23, CM Amarinder Singh to visit site on Thursday

Several fire engines are currently at the spot carrying out the recue work to bring the situation under the control. 

Death toll in Gurdaspur factory blast jumps to 23, CM Amarinder Singh to visit site on Thursday
ANI photo

New Delhi: At least 23 people died while several others are still feared to be trapped inside a building after a massive explosion took place at a cracker factory in Punjab's Gurdaspur on Wednesday. 

Several fire engines are currently at the spot carrying out the rescue work to bring the situation under the control. Ten nearby buildings were also damaged in the explosion. The cause of the blast is still unknown. 

Many others were also injured in the blast while few others are still believed to be trapped inside the rubble. Sources told Zee Media that the intensity of the blast was so huge that it damaged several houses including a car workshop located near the factory. 

Two teams of the National Disaster Response Force were rushed to spot to speed up the rescue operation.

News agency IANS quoted an official saying that the firecracker manufacturing unit was unauthorised and being run in a densely-populated residential area in Gurdaspur district. Locals complained the firecracker unit was running illegally for the past many years. It were manufacturing and storing crackers for a `nagar kirtan` - a religious procession relating to the birth anniversary celebrations of Sikhism`s founder Guru Nanak Dev - slated to reach the town late Wednesday evening.

Here are some of the pictures from the spot:

 

 

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh took to Twitter and expressed anguish over the incident, writing, "Deeply anguished to learn of the loss of lives due to the blast in the firecracker factory in Batala. Rescue operations are underway with the DC & SSP heading the relief efforts."

CM Amarinder also announced an ex-gratia grant of Rs 2 lakhs for the kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for the seven severely injured, who were referred to Amritsar Medical College. He also announced Rs 25,000 for those with minor injuries. He, along with Punjab Congress President Sunil Jakhar will reach Batala on Thursday at 11:00 am to take stock of the situation.

Punjab Revenue and Rehabilitation Minister Gurpreet Singh Kangar expressed his grief on the incident and loss of lives and assured of government's immediate action. 

Newly-elected Gurdaspur MP and actor Sunny Deol also took to social media and condoled the tragedy as he wrote, "Saddened to hear about the news of blast in Batala factory.NDRF teams and local administration has been rushed for rescue operation." 

The factory is located in the Batala area of Gurdaspur.