Death toll rises to nine in Puri firecracker explosion

The Special Relief Commissioner’s (SRC) office said out of nine deaths, three were reported on Saturday.
Pradhan meeting relatives of victims
Pradhan meeting relatives of victims

BHUBANESWAR: The death toll in the tragic Puri firecracker explosion incident rose to nine after three more injured succumbed on Saturday.

The Special Relief Commissioner’s (SRC) office said out of nine deaths, three were reported on the day. The deceased in the firecracker explosion on the concluding day of the 21-day Chandan Yatra include an 18-month-old baby boy, a four-year-old girl, a six-year-old girl and a 12-year-old boy. The other deceased are in the age group of 15 years to 38 years.

In a letter to Puri Collector, additional SRC Padmanav Behera said additional chief secretary of Revenue and Disaster Management Satyabrata Sahu, who is also the SRC, will visit the special circuit house in Puri on June 5 and conduct an inquiry into the lapses which led to the fire mishap.

The Puri collector, SP and other stakeholders concerned like the officials of Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA), assistant fire officer and eyewitnesses have been asked to remain present and share the details about the accident with Sahu during his visit between 3 pm and 7 pm on June 5.

Though SRC Sahu and chief secretary Pradeep Jena had visited the spot and Puri district headquarters hospital on May 30, the inquiry could not proceed further due to the elections. Sahu’s visit will come a day after the counting of votes takes place.

Meanwhile, Puri police has registered a suo motu case in connection with the incident. Police and Odisha Fire and Emergency Service personnel were reportedly present at Narendra tank when some locals were bursting firecrackers to mark the conclusion of Chandan Yatra. While setting off fireworks, one cracker split off and landed on the pile of explosives, triggering a blast.

“No permission was obtained to burst firecrackers. At the extreme end of the Narendra tank, there is a locality called Khandia Bandha Sahi. One of the locals identified as Chandan Bhoi was illegally bursting firecrackers along with a few others. A case has been registered against him and two others by Kumbharapada police,” said sources.

Police are also probing from where Bhoi procured the firecrackers and action would be initiated against the supplier too. He had reportedly stocked firecrackers in three to four boxes and was bursting those one after another. However, when police rushed to the spot, it was too late. Most of the persons who sustained injuries belonged to the same locality.

Meanwhile, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan met family members of the victims on the day. Stating that the loss of lives cannot be compensated, he slammed the state government for failing to create advanced healthcare system in Puri which is thronged by lakhs of devotees every year.

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