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West Bengal: 8 Killed In Massive Explosion At Illegal Firecracker Factory In Duttapukur

Six bodies were found at the explosion site at the firecracker factory in Duttapukur on Sunday while the injured were taken to a hospital nearby. Several people are feared to be stuck under the rubble.

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massive explosion at illegal firecracker factory in Duttapukur in West Bengal
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A massive explosion at the firecracker factory in Duttapukur of North 24 Parganas in West Bengal took the lives of 8 people while several others were injured on Sunday morning. There are women and children among those who were injured in the blast.

According to the reports, the explosion happened around 10 am when several people were working at the factory in Nilgunj's Moshpole in the Duttapukur police station area which is around 30 km north of Kolkata.

A CID bomb squad, personnel of the disaster management department and a contingent of police are at the spot, reportedly. 

The impact of the blast was such that not only did the house where the factory was operating turn into a heap of rubble but some neighbouring concrete houses were also damaged.

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According to a PTI report, the police said they suspect that several people are still stuck under the rubble.

Rescue and relief work are underway in the area, and firefighters are working to douse the blaze that broke out as a result of the explosion, reportedly.

Reports suggest that a huge contingent of police and personnel of the disaster management department are also at the spot.

Sen said that at times action against such firework units also invites the ire of locals as thousands of people depend on them for livelihood. He reportedly also said, "But we are firm in wiping out the menace of illegal fireworks." "We have seized raw materials used for manufacturing firecrackers. Our forensics team is checking and taking details," he said.

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The impact of the blast was such that over 50 houses in the neighbourhood were partially damaged, a senior police officer said, adding that they suspect that several people were still stuck under the rubble. Police said the son of the owner of the unit, who was working there this morning, was also killed in the blast. 

What did the opposition say?

Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari of the Bharatiya Janata Party alleged that the state has turned into a storehouse of powder kegs. He reportedly said, "There is no monitoring of illegal activities by the police. These firework units are patronised by local TMC leaders."

The BJP also claimed that the factory was running smoothly with the support of local MLA and state Food Minister Rathin Ghosh.

Demanding a NIA probe, senior BJP leader Dilip Ghosh said, "Under the TMC rule, West Bengal has become a hub of bomb-making factory and terror activities and only a NIA probe can bring out the truth." 

BJP state spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said last year there has been at least six such blasts in illegal firecracker factories.

"Several people including kids have died in blasts in illegal firecracker factories. These factories were later found to be manufacturing crude bombs. This bomb-making industry is flourishing in Bengal because of the nexus of TMC, goons and police," he said. 

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What did state ministers say?

Reacting to BJP's allegations, TMC leader Kunal Ghosh equated the BJP with a "vulture" and said it is a useless political outfit that pursues politics over bodies. "The BJP should stop doing its vulture politics. They are like vultures - waiting for someone to die so that they can come and maul the carcass. They should stop jumping to conclusions and let police complete the probe," Ghosh said.

Rubbishing the saffron party's allegation, state Food Minister Rathin Ghosh alleged that the Indian Secular Front (ISF) is behind the illegal unit. "I do not think the administration had any information about this illegal factory. I heard that an ISF activist from Murshidabad had rented a property here and was running the illegal unit. I wonder whether they were planning something big," the minister said. 

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ISF MLA Naushad Siddiqui alleged that the owner of the factory is a member of the TMC and had full support to run the unit there. "The owner is a TMC man and he had full support to run this illegal factory," Siddiqui said.

TMC Rajya Sabha MP Santanu Sen told PTI that the state government has formed a SIT (Special Investigation Team), which busted several such illegal firework units in the last few months. "If there are some units still functioning illegally, those will also be busted soon," he said.

Reportedly, the locals ransacked the house of one of the owners of the Duttapukur factory following the blast.

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The chairman of firework makers' association 'Sara Bangla Atash Bazi Unnayan Samity' Babla Roy said banned high-decibel 'chocolate bombs' or firecrackers were being manufactured at the illegal factory.

Earlier this year, a similar explosion at an illegal firecracker factory in Purba Medinipur district's Egra killed 12 people.

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