Harda (MP), Feb 6 (PTI) Scattered bodies, damaged homes and debris lying all around -- all these were reminders of the tragedy that struck Madhya Pradesh's Harda town's where a power explosion triggered a massive blaze at a firecrackers factory on Tuesday.
Nine persons were killed and 200 others injured when the explosion ripped through the facility and caused a devastating fire. The factory is located in the Bairagarh locality on the outskirts of Harda town, about 150 km from the state capital Bhopal.
The first blast, whose cause was not yet known, was followed by intermittent explosions. Their deafening sound was heard several kilometres away from the spot, where thick plumes of smoke billowed even as firefighters engaged in dousing the flames.
A video shot from the helicopter carrying State Minister Rao Uday Pratap Singh to Harda showed that the factory had been reduced to rubble.
According to eyewitnesses, several bodies were lying on the spot, while many people were reported missing after the explosion-cum-blaze at the factory.
Videos of the incident surfaced on social media, which showed intermittent explosions taking place at the unit as people frantically ran to save themselves.
The intensity of the explosions was so high that the body parts of the victims were flung far away from the spot, and in some videos, people can be seen collecting what appeared like human remains.
"I have not been able to find my son so far," said a visibly helpless father of an eight-year-old boy who went missing during the explosion.
The distraught man, identified only as Raju, worked at the factory, and his son had come there to deliver food to him.
"My son Ganesh handed me lunch just as the first explosion occurred. He was running ahead, but I have not been able to find him so far," he said, looking visibly distressed.
Raju said more than 150 people worked at the factory and he was lucky to escape unhurt.
Another factory worker, Rukhsar Bano, who sustained injuries, said the ground shook at the time of the first blast.
"When we heard the blast, we ran frantically and came out of the building. There was fire all around," she said.
"The building has three to four floors and different workers were assigned on each floor. Women and children were on my floor. My colleague's three children are missing. I saw some children and other persons lying dead," Bano claimed.
Eyewitnesses claimed that materials that were blown to bits in the explosions hit vehicles that were passing by the site, and the sound of the blasts was heard 20 to 25 km away.
Some people shot videos of the fire even as they were fleeing, while some caught a glimpse of the site from the roofs of houses.
A few houses located near the factory were also damaged, local residents said.
Though the area was not densely populated, there were 30 to 40 houses in the vicinity and the ill-fated factory was mostly surrounded by open fields, eyewitnesses said. PTI ADU MAS COR GK ARU RSY