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Massive explosion killed at least 23 at a firecracker factory in India

At least 23 people were killed and over 30 injured after a massive explosion occurred Wednesday at an unauthorized firecracker manufacturing factory in in Gurdaspur's Batala, a densely-populated residential area in Punjab's Gurdaspur, India.

The explosion was heard kilometers away. The factory was completely destroyed and nearby buildings were damaged too. The roof of a couple of buildings came down. The cause of the blast is still unknown.  Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said rescue operations are underway. Teams of the National Disaster Response Force or NDRF and the State Disaster Response Force or SDRF are involved in the rescue operations. CM Amarinder also announced an ex-gratia grant of Rs 2 lakhs for the kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for the seven severely injured, who were referred to Amritsar Medical College. He also announced Rs 25,000 for those with minor injuries.

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The factory was manufacturing and storing crackers for a 'nagar kirtan' - a religious procession relating to the birth anniversary celebrations of Sikhism's founder Guru Nanak Dev, slated to reach the town late Wednesday evening. Locals complained the firecracker unit was running illegally for the past many years.

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