Batala, Punjab: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh expressed shock over the loss of life in the incident as 18 people were killed in a blast at a firecracker factory in Batala of Gurdaspur district on Wednesday, an official said. Several people were feared trapped under the debris, police said, adding that the rescue operation was underway.
The blast took place around 4 PM at the factory located in a residential area, Inspector General (Border Range) SPS Parmar told.
Batala senior medical officer Sanjiv Bhalla said, “A total of 18 people have died in the blast.” Of the 14 seriously injured people, four have been referred to the Amritsar government hospital, Bhalla added.
Earlier, Deputy Commissioner Vipul Ujjwal said over 15 people had died in the blast.
The impact of the blast was such that a few nearby buildings were damaged.
“Deeply anguished to learn the loss of life due to the blast in the firecracker factory in Batala. Rescue operations are underway with the DC and the SSP heading relief efforts,” Amarinder tweeted.
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.
— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) September 4, 2019
Gurdaspur MP Sunny Deol too expressed grief over the incident.
“Saddened to hear about the news of blast in Batala factory. NDRF teams and local administration have been rushed for the rescue operation,” Deol said in his tweet.
Teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) have been deployed for the rescue operation.
Recently in August, the Punjab chief minister had urged External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar to take up the issue of a Sikh girl being reportedly kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam in Pakistan.
“Shocking incident of a Sikh girl being kidnapped & forced to convert to Islam in Nankana Sahib, Pakistan,” Singh had tweeted, tagging a video.
Shocking incident of a Sikh girl being kidnapped & forced to convert to Islam in Nankana Sahib, Pakistan. Call upon @ImranKhanPTI to take firm and immediate action against the perpetrators. Request @DrSJaishankar to strongly take up the issue with his counterpart at the earliest. pic.twitter.com/hpHvD9kkEJ
— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) August 30, 2019
In the video message, the Sikh family of the girl had claimed that she was abducted and forcibly converted to Islam. The family had sought Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s help.
The chief minister had urged Khan to take firm and immediate action. “Call upon@ImranKhanPTI to take firm and immediate action against the perpetrators. Request @DrS Jaishankar to strongly take up the issue with his counterpart at the earliest,” Singh had said.
In July, the Punjab chief minister had called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and termed it a “courtesy meeting”.