104 killed, 100 injured in explosion near central India bus stop
At least 104 people died and more than 100 injured Saturday following a powerful explosion near a crowded bus stand in central India, officials said.
Officials attributed the blast to mining explosives stored in the basement of a house; earlier accounts had blamed gas cylinders inside an adjacent restaurant.
The thunderous blast occurred around 8:30 a.m. in the town of Petlawad in Madhya Pradesh state, about 300 miles north of Mumbai. Passengers were waiting at the bus stand and the nearby Sethia restaurant, popular for its samosas, was filled with customers having breakfast, reports said.
Several buildings collapsed, and news footage showed chaotic scenes at the site as concrete walls were reduced to rubble and vehicles lay in wreckage. National emergency rescue teams were dispatched to the site to retrieve bodies feared trapped under the debris.
Waiters and diners were among those killed, as well as people waiting at the bus stand. Many of the hospitalized survivors were in critical condition.
K.K. Mishra, chief spokesman for the Indian National Congress party in Madhya Pradesh, said that stocks of explosives went off in the basement of the home of a local businessman. The explosives included gelatin sticks and detonators used in mining, he said.
News reports said the owner of the explosives had a license, although illicit mines are widespread in India. Manganese mines are common in the area around Petlawad.
“The residents in the area had complained several times about the dangers involved in storing explosives in the middle of the city but he is a powerful businessman,” Mishra said. “Nobody addressed it.”
The state home minister, Babulal Gaur, initially said that gas cylinders at the Sethia restaurant exploded.
The state government announced compensation of $3,000 for families of the deceased.
Parth M.N. is a special correspondent.
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