11 students injured in gas balloon explosion

Bhubaneswar: As many as 11 students including nine girls were injured after gas-filled balloons exploded at Airport square here on Friday.

All the injured were admitted to Capital Hospital. “They sustained burn injuries on forehead, hands and other exposed parts of body. Their condition is stable”, hospital superintendent Binod Mishra said adding they are being treated at a special ward. The injured girls are from Ramadevi Women’s University, Mishra said.

Law minister Arun Sahoo and BMC mayor Anant Narayan Jena rushed to the hospital to take stock of the situation.

Though the reason of the explosion has not been ascertained, police suspected it took place due to cracker blast near the place. Police started investigation into the incident.

The incident occurred when the students went in procession to Naveen Niwas with the gas-filled balloon.

“Enthusiast students, who won the recently concluded college elections, came to Naveen Niwas to seek CM’s blessing and wish him on his birthday. When the balloons they have taken for the procession went off, some students and president of Biju Chhatra Janata Dal (BCJD) Byomakesh Ray sustained minor injuries,” senior leader of BJD Bishnu Das said.

Meanwhile, chief minister Naveen Patnaik visited the hospital and took stock of the situation.

Describing the incident as ‘unfortunate’, both Congress and BJP lashed out at the ruling BJD for absence of adequate safeguards and safety measures during the procession.

“It was unfortunate. I wish the injured students speedy recovery. But, it is surprising that such an incident took place near the CM’s residence. No step was taken to prevent such mishap,” said Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) President Prasad Harichandan.

Holding the ruling BJD responsible for the mishap, state BJP spokesman Sameer Mohanty said the organisers failed to take any safety measures. Though the chief minister is also in-charge of home department, the police failed to take preventive measures during the celebrations near his residence, he said.