Blast from cooking gas cylinder triggered a second from mine detonators stored illegally nearby
At least 89 people were killed at a restaurant in central India on Saturday when a cooking gas cylinder exploded and triggered a second blast of mine detonators stored illegally nearby, police said.
The restaurant, located next to the bus station in the town of Petlawad in Madhya Pradesh state, was crowded with people having breakfast when the blasts occurred.
Rescue workers removed 89 bodies from under a huge heap of rubble, said Mewa Lal Gond, a police inspector in the mining district of Jhabua, where Petlawad is located.
Arun Sharma, a state health official, said doctors at a government hospital in Jhabua conducted 60 autopsies. The bodies were then handed over to the victims’ families.
About 100 others were injured in the blasts and taken to hospitals, Gond said.
The building where the restaurant was located and an adjacent building were destroyed by the explosions, and motorbikes outside the restaurant were flattened, he said.
Residents were evacuated from several adjoining buildings damaged in the blasts.
Police struggled to keep hundreds of onlookers and people searching for relatives away from the site of the explosions.
Crowds hampered the movement of ambulances and other emergency vehicles, with officers pushing them back to allow a bulldozer to reach the restaurant.
Gond said the detonators were stored illegally in a room adjacent to the restaurant. The explosive materials are used by miners for blasting operations or for digging wells.
Mine operators are supposed to follow guidelines on the safe storage of detonators and other explosive materials but are often lax, and the district authorities rarely act against them.
There are several manganese and bauxite mines in Jhabua district, and many mine workers are hired on contract from Petlawad, which is about 590 miles south of Delhi, and nearby areas.