NEW DELHI : At least seven people , including two minors died and over twenty others were injured in an explosion in a gun shop in the Wokha town of Nagaland. The explosion caused a major fire in the nearby buildings which also triggered off four to five LPG cylinder, further fuelling the fire which lasted till the evening.

The tragic incident occurred on February 24 around 11.30 in the morning, when a fire broke out, following an explosion, in a private gun shop (M/s General Merchant & Arms & Ammunitions Dealer) located in the heart of Wokha Town, in Tsumang colony, Nagaland.

This fire which resulted in shattering window panes of other buildings also led to the further explosion of 4-5 gas cylinders in three other houses adjacent to the building, which were completely gutted.

It has been reported that debris caused by this explosion, including bricks , glasses and stones could be seen flying in different directions,which led to injuring many.

While, some of the injured persons were immediately taken to the district hospital where they are admitted, there are others who are being treated at different clinics in the vicinity of the area.

Fire services rushed to the spot immediately with four fire tenders , and rescued many, the Wokha district administration informed. Fire tenders from Kohima on their way, were sent back from Tseminyu when the fire was brought under control. By the evening of February 24, even a bomb disposal squad from Kohima reached Wokha, as a part of additional security measures that were taken. The squad will be investigating the incident as well.

Besides the fire personnel, the rescue mission was joined by home guard, 17 Assam Rifles, private water carriers along with NGO’s and the local community, which managed to douse the flames by the evening.

While the area has been cordoned off, SP of Wokha, Chumren Khuvung informed that the matter is being investigated. However, he added that cause of the explosion which led to the fire is yet unknown.

Meanwhile, various organisations and people have expressed grief over it and condolences have been pouring in from various spheres of the society.

Nagaland Chief Minister TR Zeliang while expressing profound grief conveyed his condolences to the bereaved families and wished speedy recovery of the injured. He also expressed concern over the nature and cause of the explosion,and urged upon the competent authority to thoroughly investigate the matter so as to prevent recurrence in future.

Nagaland Home Minister Y.Patton also conveyed deep condolences and was shocked over the deaths of seven innocent lives and injuries to dozens. In a statement, Patton said “ fire started in a gun shop owned by a non-local merchant which caused subsequent explosion of gas cylinders and causing the inferno that consumed and razed two other nearby buildings. Several people were trapped inside the flame-lit buildings, taking the lives of seven and causing damages running into several lakh rupees”. He further appreciated the Wokha town police personnel for rescue operations that went on till Tuesday night due to which many more lives could be saved.

Paton also called for a proper investigation to “enable the state government for a complete assessment to do the needful.”

Several organisations, too expressed their condolences.

Lotha Hoho, Wokha in a statement issued by its chairman Mhao Humtsoe and general secretary Mhondamo Ovung, conveyed condolences to the families of those who died in the series of explosions and also wished speedy recovery of the injured.

It also urged the state government to grant ex-gratia to the families of the deceased and medical allowances to the injured. besides asking the agencies such as fire brigade and general public to be on alert so as to be able to tackle similar incidents in future.

Kyong Hoho has also expressed shock at this tragedy.

KH president Yansathung Jami and general secretary Michale Yanthan, conveyed condolences to the bereaved families and wished speedy recovery to the injured. KH also demanded payment of ex-gratia to the families of the deceased and injured and also setting up of a high level probe to ascertain facts and also to avert similar tragedies in future.

The ruling NPF was also grief struck. G. Kaito Aye legislature party leader and Noke Wangnoa president of the NPF(Noke) have termed the explosion and fire incident in Wokha town on Tuesday as “ unfortunate and of serious concern”, that led to loss of precious lives, injuries to several others besides damage to properties. They reiterate that the incident needed to be thoroughly investigated by competent agencies at the earliest so as to ascertain the cause behind it.

The State BJP, T.M. Lotha, the BJP MLA representing Wokha town, Ex-deputy speaker and the Wokha unit of ACAUT Nagaland have all expressed their condolences, however, urging the government to ensure that proper investigations take place.