Central India Restaurant Explosion: Death Toll Climbs Over 100 After Blast In Crowded Restaurant

A central India restaurant explosion has left more than 100 people dead, and authorities say an illegal storage of mine detonators are to blame.

The blast took place in the central town of Petlawad in Madhya Pradesh state on Saturday when a cooking gas cylinder ignited, triggering a chain reaction blast that left dozens of people dead.

Rescue workers had already uncovered more than 100 bodies in the rubble left by the explosion, which also destroyed an adjacent building. The restaurant destroyed in the explosion was popular among poor laborers, USA Today noted.

The dead included three children. At least 150 more people were injured, authorities said.

The blast itself was especially powerful, the Times of India noted.

“The intensity of the blast tore apart bodies that flew out of the building in a ball of fire. Vehicles parked nearby were charred to skeletal remains.”

There had initially been some rumors that the explosion could have been the work of Islamic terrorists, but authorities quickly determined that the illegally-stored mine detonators caused the explosion.

They were planning to get a better idea of the cause for the blast once the site was more secure.

“We are awaiting a report from our team that has gone to the site, as it will give a clearer picture on the cause of the explosion,” a local official said.

Witnesses said those eating in the restaurant heard a minor explosion, which they believed to be a cylinder bursting. A few minutes later dark smoke began to pour out of a nearby shop, and the entire building exploded.

Many local residents were evacuated after the central India restaurant explosion, with officials worried about damage to the nearby buildings. Police also had difficulty controlling the hundreds of onlookers and family members who gathered around the site, with the crowds making it difficult for ambulances to move in and out.

Authorities said a local contractor, Rajendra Kashawa, had a permit to purchase detonators for his well-digging company but had stored them illegally.

“The accused businessman had a license for using of mining explosives, but he’d stored these illegally,” said the local divisional commissioner, Sanjay Dubey. “Five shops run by the Kaswa family in Petlawad and one in Bhendi on Ratlam highway have been sealed. They have been charged with illegally storing explosives and causing death due to negligence.”

Kashawa died in the central India restaurant explosion, authorities said. Many of his family members were reported missing as well.

[Image via Mass Live/video screenshot]