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Police hunt contractor after 90 die in India blasts

Published 14/09/2015

A crowd gathers at the site of the explosion in Petlawad district
A crowd gathers at the site of the explosion in Petlawad district

Police in central India are looking for a man in connection with a massive explosion at a restaurant that killed 90 people, as angry residents protested the way the authorities were handling the case.

A cooking gas cylinder exploded at the restaurant on Saturday, triggering a second blast of mine detonators stored next door, in the town of Petlawad in Madhya Pradesh state.

The state's top elected official, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, had to face protesters when he visited the site of the explosions. The protesters, shouting slogans and waving black flags, forced Chouhan to step out of his car and listen to their complaints against local authorities for failing to enforce safety regulations.

Police officer Kamlesh Bamaniya said the protesters were also angry that Petlawad police had failed to arrest a contractor who was accused of illegally storing the detonators.

Residents said that they had earlier complained to Petlawad town authorities about the illegal storing of explosives in the building, but that no action was taken, television channel CNN-IBN reported.

The restaurant, next to the main bus station in Petlawad, was crowded with people having breakfast when the blasts occurred.

Rescue workers worked throughout the day, pulling 90 bodies from the rubble.

Most of those killed in the explosions were labourers waiting to be hired by contractors to work in nearby manganese mines.

Around 100 others were injured in the blasts and were taken to hospitals. At least 20 of them were in critical condition, said a state health official.

Petlawad is about 950 km (590 miles) south of New Delhi

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