Another explosion in illegal firecracker factory in WB, at least 7 dead

Many local residents claimed authorities had turned a blind eye to the factory in Mochpole village despite several petitions

Several workers from Murshidabad are reportedly among the dead (photo: IANS)
Several workers from Murshidabad are reportedly among the dead (photo: IANS)


A massive explosion at an illegal cracker factory in Mochpole in West Bengal's North 24 Parganas district around 9.30 am on Sunday, 27 August has killed several people, many of them workers from Murshidabad district, and flattened a number of houses in the area.

Locals claim the death toll could go as high as 12, though the official count still seems to be seven killed and five injured as bodies continue to be extracted from under the debris at the time of filing this report.

Many local residents also claimed that authorities had turned a blind eye to the goings-on in Mochpole village despite several petitions. Had action been taken, Sunday's tragedy could have been avoided, a man whose house was severely injured in the blast said.

"The premises were rented out by the owner to one Jirat Sheikh of Murshidabad about two years ago. Jirat and his local partner Qaramat Ali set up the cracker manufacturing unit there. There was a minor accident about six months ago, after which villagers petitioned the police and local administration about what was happening. However, no steps were taken. Rather, Jirat used his influence to get one of the petitioners arrested on false charges," said a neighbour, whose house was severely damaged in the blast.

Enraged locals got into a dispute with the police when the latter tried to reach the accident site on Sunday. An official vehicle was also damaged. A large police contingent, including RAF personnel, later reached the spot and brought the situation under control.

"Jirat is absconding. However, Qaramat and his son have probably died in the blast. There were about five-six workers from Murshidabad as well. The remaining are locals. It was a gruesome sight. It was such a high-intensity blast that bodies were simply ripped apart. There is no way of identifying the dead," another villager said.

A senior police officer from the district confirmed that at least seven persons have died in the blast. He said that a proper investigation will be launched once the area has been searched.

In May, a similar blast occurred in Egra in the state's East Midnapore district, killing at least five people, while another blast the same week killed three women in Budge Budge, South 24 Parganas district. The state government had then promised to curb such illegal activities and urged cracker manufacturers to apply for licences to manufacture environment-friendly crackers.

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