At least 15 workers were killed in an explosion and over 30 were injured, some critically, at a fireworks unit in Vembakottai in Tamil Nadu’s Virudhunagar district on Friday.
The bodies of many of the victims were charred beyond recognition. Preliminary investigations suggested the blast was triggered due to friction, handling inflammable chemicals in a working shed and quickly spread to other parts of the factory.
According to Virudhunagar Collector R Kannan, the accident took place at Mariammal Fireworks, a private unit. The persons who suffered burns and were rushed to nearby hospitals, including the Government Hospital in Sivakasi. Officials indicated the toll could rise as some had suffered critical third-degree burns. Fire tenders from the Fire and Rescue Stations in Sattur, Vembakottai and Sivakasi rushed to the spot and battled to contain the blaze, interspersed with loud noises of exploding crackers. A team from the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation reached the spot to ascertain the cause.
Expressing shock and grief over the deaths of the workers, PM Modi tweeted in Tamil and offered condolences to the families of the deceased and injured. “An ex-gratia of R 2 lakh each has been approved from PM’s Relief Fund for the next of kin of those who have lost their lives. Rs 50,000 would be given to those seriously injured,” PM Modi said. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted his condolences. CM EK Palaniswami announced Rs3 lakh to the families and ordered a probe.