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A blast in a cracker factory in Sunam Monday left 28 persons injured, three of whom are critical. The blast destroyed the factory apart from blowing away roofs of three adjacent houses, sources said. Most of the injured persons are neighbouring residents and commuters while the caretaker of the factory, Badloo Khan, is missing after the explosion.
The factory was used as a storehouse and the owner, Raj Kumar Nagpal, is a stockist of Sivakasi Crackers company. The store was located in nearly 300 square yards. Sunam area has no fire brigade and help had to be called from Sangrur district, 20-25 km away.
The police identified some of the injured as Harjeet Kaur, Harinder Kaur, Malkiat Singh, Kulvir Singh, Kamaldeep Kaur, Sandeep Kaur and Preet Kaur – they all were neighbours whose houses had also been damaged as the roofs blew away while commuters Raju and Lakhwinder Singh were passing through that road on motorbikes when the blast happened and they too became victims.
Among them is 10-year-old Kamaldeep Kaur, who is critical along with other two patients — Sandeep Kaur and Preet Kaur — who have been referred to Rajindra Medical college, Patiala while the others were admitted to civil hospital, Sangrur. As many as 14 persons were sent home after treatment, said civil surgeon Dr Kirandeep Kaur.
Sangrur police said the factory owner Raj Kumar and a nearby resident, Sardara Singh, were locked in a legal battle over the factory’s location. The later wanted it to be vacated as 8-10 houses were located nearby. Raj Kumar, however, had got a stay order from the High Court, said the police.
The factory was located on Neelowal Village Road in Sunam. The blast happened when a few nearby residents were sitting outside while commuters were also passing through the road, said Sangrur SSP Mandeep Singh Sidhu. The impact of the blast was such hat a transformer installed nearby was flung nearly 100 yards away, he added.
SSP Mandeep Singh Sidhu said efforts were on to trace the factory employee, Badloo Khan. He said, “So far we have not got any dead body, so as per our record, Khan is missing.” However, part of a human hand was recovered from the debris.
No police action has been taken against the factory owner yet as police as well as district administration was focusing on relief measures. Amarpartap Singh Virk, DC, Sangrur said, “Our primary focus is to provide relief in the area and we are removing explosives spread out here and there after blast, so that it cannot cause any more damage. We will be studying the cause of the incident after the relief measures are done and will take action as per law.”