Nashik, Maharashtra, June 8: Four persons were killed, and seven others were injured when a powerful explosion ripped through a building in the congested Panchvati area of this town Wednesday afternoon, police said.
Two floors of the three-storeyed Saptashringi Apartment collapsed due to its impact and several people were trapped inside the debris.
Local ministers — Balasaheb Thorat, state revenue minister and Chhagan Bhujbal, state public works minister — visited the site. “Initially it was said that it was a cylinder blast,” Bhujbal told reporters. “However, after gauging the severity of what is being seen here, we will have to wait for a complete investigation report.”
Newly-appointed police commissioner Vinod Lokhande said: “We are trying our best to conduct the investigation here."
While most damaged vehicles in the lot have been claimed, a white Tata Indigo (MH-15-BD-7167) remains unclaimed and the police have recovered firecrackers from the vehicle. The vehicle is damaged but not severely, reports the Mumbai newspaper DNA.
The locals reported that they heard a loud explosion and rushed out of their houses. On discovering that the staircases were completely destroyed by the blast, they contacted the working family members who got hold of ladders from nearby buildings and rushed to rescue their families.
Glass splinters from the blast injured children and women. The residents of the building are worried as their valuables and important documents are inside the unstable structure.
Rendered temporarily homeless, the people are being fed biscuits and water by the residents of neighbouring buildings.
Teams of senior police officials, bomb squad, dog squad, six fire tenders and a disaster management team reached the spot.
The nature of the blast - whether it was a cooking gas cylinder explosion or an explosive device - is being investigated.
Even though the building is largely residential, it has a few commercial establishments. Four bodies were recovered from the debris, and seven people have been injured.
Commandoes scanned the debris, looking for more casualties. As the building is unstable, and could fall any minute, rescue operations became slow.
While the police are suspecting a cylinder blast, eyewitnesses said the impact and the explosion indicate that it could be a stronger explosive.
Panchavati is a thick residential area, but it wasn't particularly crowded at the time of the blast.