VELLORE: Four workers, including two women, were killed and seven others sustained injuries in an explosion in a firecracker manufacturing unit in Kallapadi village near Gudiyattam on Tuesday.
With the help of the family members, the police identified the deceased as E Jaisankar (35), C Sarveswaran (35), S Jeevitha (25) and Megalai (40) of Ramalai village. The seven injured were identified as Kalaiselvi (34), Karpagam (41), Sumathi (40), Padmavathy (35), Ponnammal (50), Deepa (25) and K Babu (33). Babu was grazing his cattle in the vicinity when the explosion occurred.
The explosion at Bharathi Fire Works was reported at about 12.30 pm and neighbours living 800 metres away felt the blast. Personnel attached to the Fire and Rescue Service in Gudiyattam reached the spot at about 12.35 pm.
Superintendent of police of Vellore P K Senthil Kumari and revenue officials visited the spot and conducted an inquiry. Preliminary inquiries revealed that management was stocking finished crackers in proximity with the chemicals used to manufacturing the firecrackers, flouting rules.
“Police suspect that the mishandling of the chemicals — Potassium Nitrate, Sulphur and Charcoal — while mixing them resulted in the explosion,” Senthil Kumari said.
The explosion reduced the building of Bharathi Fire Works into a heap of debris and the body parts of two of the deceased were found scattered 40 metres away.
“We picked the limbs, arms and other parts of two victims scattered around and kept it in one spot,” said the police official.
“The detached heads of two of the victims were found 40 metres and 25 metres away from the place of explosion. The parts of the bodies of two of the victims were found scattered in a radius of 40 metres and the iron door was found over 50 metres away from source of explosion,” said Additional Director of Forensic Wing K Pari.
Several trees in the radius of around 50 metres from the place where the one-year-old factory was, had been uprooted. The building, which was constructed using hollow blocks, was completely destroyed in the explosion. The hollow blocks were found scattered several metres away.
While five of the injured were admitted to the Government Hospital in Gudiyattam, Babu and another person have been referred to the Government Vellore Medical College Hospital. “I was drying the crackers outside the building. I heard a huge explosion and a hollow block fell on me. I do not know what happened after that as I lost consciousness,” said Karpagam.
The police filed a case against the owner of the factory R G Sampath under the Indian Explosives Act and launched a manhunt.
Later on the day, School Education Minister K C Veeramani visited the injured persons admitted in the GH in Gudiyattam.