Seven people, including three minors, died and 11 were injured after an explosion and fire in a candle-making factory in Ghaziabad’s Modi Nagar on Sunday. Police received a call around 3.30 pm about the fire and several people being trapped inside the factory, which operated illegally hidden behind an under-construction house. By the time police, fire officials and locals dragged the trapped persons out, seven people had been charred to death. The injured are admitted to Meerut’s Subharti Medical College.
“It appears the factory was operating illegally without adequate paperwork. The workers made sparkling candles used on birthday cakes. The cause of the fire is being investigated since we have not recovered any explosive substance. An FIR will be filed against the factory owner and arrests will be made soon,” said Neeraj Jadaun, SP, Rural, Ghaziabad.
The victims were identified as Poonam, Baby (41), Munesh, Chinki (21) and minors Rohit, Shahinoor, and Lakshmi (aged between 15-17), residents of Bakharva village.
The factory, which overlooked farms in the village, comprised two main rooms and an open area where packaged candles would be kept in bundles. One set of workers would stuff the powder inside candles, while another would wrap it with a sticker.
On Sunday, locals heard a loud explosion followed by screams. Those who rushed to the spot claimed there were approximately 40 people working in the small space. Some of them broke a part of the wall to escape.
Locals and officials involved in the rescue operation had to dig through packets of candles to find the bodies.
According to police, the factory was being run for the past year and a half by Nitin Chaudhary, a resident of the village. The accused had hired the rear of the under-construction house from another person on a fixed payment basis, and would operate the factory there, hidden in plain sight. Locals alleged that a police team had come to raid the place but were paid off by the accused. “A police officer posted in Modi Nagar police station has been suspended. The role of the officer will be investigated,” said Neeraj Jadaun.
“We received a call at 3.52 pm and two fire tenders were rushed. The cause of fire has not been determined and the fire was brought under control by two and a half hours since it was simmering,” said an official from the Ghaziabad Fire Department.
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