Five persons were killed and four others injured in an explosion that took place in a recycling factory at Malda in north Bengal on Thursday morning.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has directed Firhad Hakim, the state urban development minister, to rush to the spot in a helicopter. He will reach in the evening.
“Efforts are being made so that family members of the dead receive a compensation of Rs2 lakh at the earliest. The injured will get a compensation of Rs50,000. The situation is being monitored from the state secretariat at Nabanna,” Alapan Bandyopadhyay, the chief secretary of West Bengal, told reporters at the state secretariat in Howrah.
Police are yet to identify the persons who were killed, as the bodies are charred. The injured were shifted to the state-run medical college and hospital.
“While four persons died on the spot; one succumbed later in the hospital. The preliminary investigation revealed that the explosion took place because of some fault in the machines. A forensic team is on its way,” said Alok Rajoria, the superintendent of police of Malda.
Locals said that the blast took place around 11am when nearly 20 workers were working inside the factory, which recycled plastic, iron and brass.
“The explosion was so powerful that people staying at least two kilometres away could also hear the noise. Not only did the walls of the factory collapse and its roof blow off, but a few houses in its vicinity were also damaged,” said Sohurul Biswas, a local resident.
“The factory is owned by one Amlu Sheikh. One Ketabuddin Sheikh used to look after the daily activities in the factory,” said a local resident who refused to be identified. Police said that they are now searching for the factory owner.
A section of the locals, however, alleged that crude bombs may have been stored in the factory and the premises had become a meeting place for miscreants over the years. Police said an investigation was going on.