At least six people were killed when the gelatin sticks they were trying to dispose of exploded accidentally at a stone quarry site in a village in Karnataka’s Chikkaballapur district early on Tuesday, according to reports. According to the police, the incident took place at Hirenagavalli near Peresandra.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his grief over the incident. “Pained by the loss of lives due to a mishap at Chikkaballapur in Karnataka. Condolences to the bereaved families. Praying that the injured recover quickly,” the Prime Minister Office tweeted.
Karnataka CM B S Yediyurappa too offered condolences to the families of the victims and assured strict action. "The death of six people near Hirenagavalli village, Chikkaballapur, due to a gelatin blast is shocking. District in-charge minister and senior officials have been instructed to conduct a thorough probe and take stern action against the culprits," Yediyurappa told news agency ANI.
Karnataka Health Minister K Sudhakar, who represents the Chikkaballapur constituency, visited the spot. He told PTI that the bodies of the victims were badly mutilated and scattered all over the place.
Sudhakar said stringent action would be taken against the owners of the mines who had stored the explosives illegally. He added that police investigations are on into the matter.
According to PTI, quarrying was stopped by the police on 7 February following complaints from the locals against rampant use of gelatin sticks. Yet, it continued clandestinely, following which another raid was carried out a few days ago and the contractor was warned not to use gelatin anymore. The men working there went to dispose of the explosives in the wee hours of Tuesday when it went off accidentally.
The incident comes close on the heels of a similar blast at a quarry site in Yediyurappa's hometown of Shivamogga on 22 January, which left six dead.
(With inputs from PTI and ANI)