A HIGH-INTENSITY blast rocked a godown of detonators at Khanda Hadmatiya village, some 70 km east of Rajkot city, sending shock waves in dozens of neighbouring villages and killing a watchman on duty, in the wee hours of Thursday. An year ago, a similar explosion had killed more than 80 people at Jhabua in Madhya Pradesh.
Police said that the explosion was reported around 1 am at the godown located at an isolated place in Khanda Hadmatiya, a village in Jasdan taluka of Rajkot district. The blast was so powerful that the entire godown stocked with detonators was blown up and its impact was felt in dozens of villages in the neighbouring Vinchhiya and Gondal talukas of the district. The watchman of the godown was hit by the flying debris after the explosion and was killed. He was identified as Pratap Chauhan (60), a resident of Khanda Hadmatiya. Police said he succumbed to injuries while being taken to hospital.
“More than 20 lakh detonators were stored in the godown. The watchman was hit by a rock and was killed. The area has been cordoned off and police personnel have been deployed there,” Superintendent of Rajkot rural police, Antrip Sood, told The Indian Express. The godown belonged to one Narendra Khunt, a resident of Atkot village in Jasdan taluka. Police said Khunt runs his business of supplying detonators and explosives under the banner of Ajit Agencies and in partnership with Ashwin Bhalala and Nitin Patel.
The SP said that forensic science experts and a team from the office of deputy chief controller of explosives, Vadodara, had reached the spot and were trying to ascertain the cause of the blast. “Such a blast has happened for the first time in Gujarat. The explosives department and forensic experts are investigating the cause of the blast. If any negligence on the part of the agency who had stored the detonators comes to light, we shall register an offence,” Sood added.
Police said that some 17 tonnes of gelignite, an explosive material used to blast wells and in stone quarries, was stored in the neighbouring godown owned by the same firm. “But, luckily, the explosives remained intact and therefore the intensity of the blast remained low comparatively,” the SP added.
The blast sent detonators flying in the radius of around one kilometre. “Minor blasts continued in the vicinity till around 6:30 am. But since then they ceased and forensic and explosive experts have gone to the core of the blast site for investigation,” Jasdan police inspector Jayesh Mori said. Sub-divisional magistrate of Jasdan, Bharat Patel, said the area had been cordoned off as a pre-cautionary measure and policemen were posted.
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