At least 13 workers lost their lives and 36 were severely injured in an explosion at a firecracker unit in Achankulam village near Kottaipatti in Virudhunagar district of Tamil Nadu.
In Sivakasi (Virdhunagar district) and its surrounding villages, cracker manufacturing units, litho and offset printing presses, safety match sticks manufacturing, diary and calendar production units are aplenty. It is being called Kutty (small Japan). Blasts or explosions are quite common every year due to various reasons in the state.
On 12th January (yesterday) a villager near Sattur ( famous for red chilli or lal mirchi) a massive fire broke out killing 13 workers. Nearly 40 were admitted to Sivakasi Government hospital with severe to light burn injuries for treatment. According to Dhinasari Tamil internet portal reporter Ravichandran, the accident took place while some chemicals were being mixed to produce fireworks. Police said out of the 13 dead bodies, nine of them were recovered in a charred condition from the spot and two people died at the hospital. They say it is difficult to identify the bodies which are totally charred. Ten firefighters from various locations rushed to the spot to douse the fire. Ten rooms have been totally destroyed in the explosion. “Around 50 workers were working in the unit at the time of the accident,” said district fire officer Ganesan. While the reason for the incident is yet to be ascertained. It is learnt that the unit was leased to many contractors illegally. Elaayirampannai police have registered a case. Meanwhile severely injured ones are referred to GRH in Madurai for further treatment.
Prime Minister Modi tweeted from his official handle, “the fire at a firecracker unit in Virudhunagar, Tamil Nadu is saddening. In this hour of grief, my thoughts are with the bereaved families. I hope those injured recovers soon. Authorities are working on the ground to assist those affected”.
Union government has announced an ex-gratia of Rs.2 lakh each from PMNRF for the families of the victims and Rs. 50,000 each for those seriously injured.
TN Chief Minister expressed grief over the death of 11 persons and announced Rs.3 lakh each as compensation to the kin of the bereaved families and Rs.1 lakh each for those severely injured. He also directed district collectors to ensure the safety of cracker unit workers during the summer.
Ravichandran said, “in the unit, which has been approved by the Petroleum and Explosives Control board, nearly 50 workers were making fancy type crackers in more than 35 rooms. While mixing chemicals in one of the rooms led to explosion and fire that broke outspread to the entire area. On hearing the news, District Collector R Kannan, Superintendent of Police Perumal rushed to the spot to oversee the rescue operations”.