One dead, 16 injured in massive blast at illegal firecracker warehouse in Kochi

In Kochi, Kerala, one person died and 16 people, including women and children, were injured in a major blast at an illegal fireworks warehouse in a residential area near Tripunithura. The explosion on Monday caused extensive damage to around 25 houses, many shops, and two vehicles in the area. The deceased was identified as Vishnu from Thiruvananthapuram, while four injured people are said to be in serious condition and have been transferred to Kalamassery Medical College for expert care, reported PTI. 

According to the report, the exact cause of the blast is yet to be ascertained; however, authorities suspect that a huge cache of firecrackers brought to the warehouse might have exploded together. The incident created vibrations several kilometres distant, and the local fire station was also affected.

Fire and rescue services arrived quickly to the incident, putting the fire under control, but not before causing major damage in the region. The Assistant Station Officer was shocked to learn of an illegal firecracker warehouse operating without required authorization in such a highly populated region.

“We had no clue that a firecracker warehouse was being operated in this thickly populated area. Those who operated it did not seek any permission for the same,” the official told PTI. 

The exact cause of the explosion has yet to be ascertained, although initial accounts indicate that it occurred while firecrackers were being unloaded from a car into the warehouse. Local inhabitants are dealing with the fallout from the explosion, with many houses suffering major damage to roofs, doors, and windows, and cars parked in porticos being wrecked by falling debris.

“Local people said the warehouse was being operated in the area for some time and firecrackers were stored as part of a local temple festival. We have to verify such details. But, we had no information about its operations so far,” the officer added.

Meanwhile, a local woman, who was shocked due to the aftermath, told PTI, “We have lost everything…My house is completely damaged. There are no doors and windows…how can we stay here?” In another instance, per a PTI report, an elderly man was happy to see his wife alive while a teen boy was spotted shivering due to the impact of the blast. 

An inquiry has been opened into the unlawful storing of firecrackers in a residential neighbourhood, authorities said. Health Minister Venna George has directed that the injured patients admitted to Kalamassery Medical College and Ernakulam General Hospital receive specialist medical care.

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