At least 80 people were reportedly killed and several others injured when a massive explosion collapsed a busy restaurant in Central India. According to The Indian Express, the explosion happened in the town of Petlawad located in the Jhabua district of the state of Madhya Pradesh. While police officials previously stated the explosion was seemingly caused by a gas cylinder being used by the hotel to prepare food, they have updated their statement to reveal that there were explosives being stored inside a nearby house. The explosion was so powerful, it turned the hotel into a heap of twisted metal and rubble.
The death toll is expected to rise further owing to the fact that the explosion happened during the busy hours of the morning, Russia Today reports. According to Arun Sharma, the Chief Medical Health Officer for Jhabua district, the explosion happened at the busy Sethia restaurant. Nine people among the dead were employees of the hotel. The remainder of those who died were customers having breakfast at the hotel. He added that most of the people inside the restaurant at the time of the explosion were killed.
Photos from the site reveal the colossal damage from the explosion.
— Hindustan Times (@htTweets) September 12, 2015
— The Indian Express (@IndianExpress) September 12, 2015
Rescue efforts are being conducted to search for survivors who may still be trapped under the debris. A team from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has been dispatched to the site of the explosion.
“A team equipped with gadgets to operate in collapsed structures has been sent to the accident site in Jhabua from Vadodara in Gujarat.The team will assist local administration in retrieval operations,” NDRF Director General O P Singh told PTI in Delhi.
Earlier reports about the deadly last blamed the explosion on cooking gas cylinders used in the hotel to prepare food. Police officials are now saying the explosion happened due to some explosives that were stored in a room adjacent to the hotel. Gelatin sticks, which are a potent explosive, along with several detonators were reportedly stored inside the room. Upon further investigation, it became clear that the owner of the house where the explosives were stored apparently had been issued a license to do so.
Police officials revealed they were able to recover 25 bodies from the rubble and that most were sent in for an autopsy. The injured were sent to several hospitals in the nearby towns of Ratlam, Indore and Jhabua.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister has announced a compensation of Rs.200,000 ($3,000 USD) to the relatives of the people who died in the explosion. People who have been injured will also get Rs.25,000 ($370 USD) as compensation.
[Photo courtesy of NDTV via Twitter]