9 killed in fire cracker unit blast
DECCAN CHRONICLE | G Babu Jayakumar and P A Jebaraj
Chennai: A massive explosion ripped through a fire cracker unit near Kuruvimalai in Kancheepuram district on Wednesday noon, killing nine persons, five of them on the spot, and landing 15 others in various hospitals in Kancheepuram, Chengalpattu and Chennai, besides bringing down four buildings in the premises housing the manufacturing facility.
About 27 workers were in the Valartotam facility, which, according to State Minister for Rural Industries, T M Anbarasan, was crammed as it had space for only 10 persons to work from, when the explosion occurred. It started with some raw materials for fire cracking manufacturing kept outside the godown for drying, catching fire and triggering a series of blasts.
Chief Minister M K Stalin announced a solatium of Rs 3 lakh for the deceased persons and Rs 2 lakh for those injured. Those who suffered less than 50 percent burns were being treated at the Kancheepuram Government hospitals while people whose condition was critical with high levels of burns had been taken to government hospitals in Chengalpattu and Kilpauk in Chennai.
Two fire tenders rushed to the spot to put out the blaze and fire service personnel had to search for people with injuries and dead bodies amidst the heap of debris, while the entire neighbourhood shook with people mistaking it to be a earthquake.
The accident sent shockwaves across the district that had four such firecracker units and has witnessed five explosions since 2006. Two explosions in Vaiyavur in the district led to the death of 3 persons in 2006 and 6 others in 2014, while the other two accidents were in Pallatheru that claimed two lives in 2017 and another one at Nagaluthu Street godown in 2018 killing 4 persons.
State Minister C V Ganesan, too, visited the injured in Kancheepuram hospital and placed wreaths on the bodies of those who died. Among the dead was a couple, Gangadharan, who was blown by the impact of the explosion to smithereens, and his wife Vijaya, succumbing to burns at the Kanchipuram hospital.
Anbarasan told the media that he would instruct the authorities to check the other fire cracker units in the district if they all followed the regulations. The factory had a proper license to operate and was started in 2006. Its owner, Narendran gave himself up voluntarily before the Kanchipuram taluk police station.
The persons admitted to hospitals, many of them women have suffered severe burns and serious injuries. Some of them have lost their limbs.