Hunt on for contractor blamed for causing killer Jhabua explosion
Authorities in Madhya Pradesh's Petlawad town in Jhabua district are searching for the owner of a house where an explosion ripped through a restaurant and killed over a 100 people on Saturday morning.india Updated: Sep 13, 2015 22:05 IST
Authorities in Madhya Pradesh's Petlawad town in Jhabua district are searching for the owner of a house where an explosion ripped through a restaurant and killed over a 100 people on Saturday morning.
"The owner of the house, Rajendra Kaswa, is absconding from Jhabua. We have interrogated his family members and there is no clue about his whereabouts," additional superintendent of police (ASP) Seema Alva was quoted by IANS as saying. Kaswa took up contracts to build wells and was licensed to store explosives.
Government officials told HT Kaswa had been storing explosives in his house for 10 years illegally. His brother, Shanti Lal, died in an explosion eight years ago but details about his death are sketchy.
Protesters in Petlawad held a shutdown on Sunday and blocked chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan's way, demanding Rajendra Kaswa's arrest and action against "irresponsible" officials.
Read: Bloody bodies, harrowing tales: Eyewitnesses recount Jhabua blasts
They claimed that the town should be searched as they feared more explosives and gelatin rods are stored unsafely. Chouhan ordered a judicial probe into the incident and increased the ex-gratia payment for people who had died in the explosion from Rs 5 lakh to 10 lakh. People injured will be treated at the state government's expense.
Police and government officials say casualties were high because the blast occurred at around 8.30am when many office workers and schoolchildren were having breakfast in the restaurant. A large number of labourers waiting at a crowded bus stop in close proximity was another reason for the high death toll.
Soon after the blast, bodies covered in dust and ash lay on the streets alongside the twisted wreckage of burned vehicles while television footage showed scores of people and rescue workers using their bare hands to shift mangled heaps of steel and concrete of the ruined buildings.
Government officials put the number of dead at 90 but that toll will rise when people who died of their injuries on Saturday night are accounted for.