Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

In a tragic incident, at least three persons lost their lives while more than 30 devotees sustained critical injuries following the explosion of crackers during the ‘Chapa Khela’ of Holy Trinity in Narendra pond as part of the Chandan Yatra in Puri on Wednesday.

As per reports, one minor boy died at SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack and the other two persons breathed their last at private hospitals in Bhubaneswar while undergoing treatment.

The injured were admitted to Puri District Headquarters Hospital in a critical condition. However, they were later shifted to the SCB Medical College in Cuttack and other hospitals in Bhubaneswar after their condition deteriorated.

As per reports, sparkles from exploded crackers fell on a pile of crackers on the Devi ghat side of the pond resulting severe injuries to the devotees who had gathered there to watch the water sports in the holy pond. Many devotees jumped into the pond to save their lives. Subsequently, local residents rescued them and sent them to hospitals.

Initially, patients were taken to the outdoor department and later shifted to the surgery ward of the Puri Headquarters Hospital. However, they could not be treated there properly as the hospital lacked burn unit.

Locals Slam Puri District Administration

Local residents rued about the inactivity of the district administration in rescuing the injured persons immediately and lack of proper treatment facilities at Puri District Headquarters Hospital.

“Local people rescued the injured devotees and sent them to the hospital immediately. No police and fire brigade personnel came to the rescue of the victims at the spot immediately. In the first place, why permission was given to explode crackers at the crowded spot,” asked an eyewitness.

“A private person had piled a huge amount of crackers near Devi Ghat side of the pond and a huge number of devotees were watching ‘Bhaunri Khela’ at the spot. We have never seen this kind of tragic incident during Chandan Jata in my lifetime,” said another eyewitness.

“There was no restriction on bursting of firecrackers during the festival by the temple administration. During the bursting of firecrackers, sparks fell on a box of bombs and as a result, those exploded injuring many people. My son had gone to watch the festival. He became a victim of the explosion. He was in good condition. However, his condition deteriorated as he could not be admitted to the hospital immediately due to the late arrival of ambulance. Later, he was shifted to SCB. However, he succumbed to his burn injuries while undergoing treatment at SCB due to the long travel to Cuttack from Puri. Had there proper treatment facilities at Puri, I would not have lost my son,” rued a woman who lost his 15-year-old son in the tragic incident.

Several people were injured in a fire incident. A rescue team reached the spot and all the injured were sent to hospitals. The first priority is to provide treatment to the injured, said Puri Collector Siddharth Shankar Swain.

Meanwhile, Puri MLA Jayanta Sarangi requested the administration to provide immediate treatment facilities to the injured.

“The reason behind the cracker explosion will be investigated. However, the treatment of the injured should be given priority. I request the administration to provide immediate treatment facilities to the injured. I pray to God for their speedy recovery,” said Sarangi.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has expressed his grief over the incident.

“I am saddened to know about the incident that happened near Narendra pond in Puri. I have ordered the Chief Secretary and the district administration to ensure proper treatment of the injured persons. All the treatment cost will be granted from the Chief Minister’s relief fund. I pray before Mahaprabhu for the speedy recovery of all,” wrote Patnaik on X (earlier known as Twitter).

BJP National Vice-President Baijayant Panda tweets, “I am deeply saddened to know about the death and injury due to explosion of crackers during ‘Chapa Khela’ in Narendra pond in Puri. I extend my deepest condolence to the bereaved family members. I pray before Lord Jagannath for the speedy recovery of the injured. Om Shanti.”



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