MUMBAI: At least 13 people were killed and another 58 sustained injuries in a major cylinder explosion at a chemical company in Dhule district of North Maharashtra.
The explosion took place at the chemical factory in Shirpur Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation area near Waghadi village, 60 km away from Dhule and 400 km from Mumbai, at around 10 am. It was so severe that houses in a radius of around 5 km were shaken, said the villagers who rushed for the rescue operations.
While the identification of the company and the cause of the blast have not been established as yet, the fire brigade has controlled the fire that broke out after the explosion.
As per preliminary information, several workers were residing within the company premises along with their families and they were the primary victims to the explosion and fire.
At least 100 workers were believed to be in the factory at the time of the explosion. Among those injured includes several minor children living in the factory compound said rescue operators.
The police control room received a call about the explosion at 10.20 am. Treatment and rescue efforts were delayed after the first responders at the site feared multiple explosions would follow.
The injured have been admitted to sub-district hospital. Those in critical condition have been shifted to private hospitals in the area.
The overall death toll is likely to go up, fear authorities.
A team of chemical experts and doctors have been moved to location, informed Dhule guardian minister Girish Mahajan.
Prima facie it appears that at least one of the 18 boilers at the factory exploded, but no official information has been released on the reason behind the explosion and who owns the chemical company.
Questions on following safety procedures in such dangerous chemicals factories are already being raked up.
While Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has announced an ex-gratia Rs 5 lakh for the kin of deseased, guardian minister Girish Mahajan said that he is trying to reach the explosion site.
"CM Devendra Fadnavis expressed grief over loss of lives in explosion at chemical factory near Shirpur in Dhule district. Guardian Minister, Collector, SP on spot. SDRF team reached too and now fire is under control. CM Devendra Fadnavis also announced 5 lakh to the kin of deceased," the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) tweeted.
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to Fadnavis and took stock of the situation arising out of the explosion at the chemical factory.
During the telephonic conversation, the chief minister conveyed to the home minister that the state government has been doing its best to help those who are in distress.
"Anguished to learn about the loss of lives due to explosion at a chemical factory in Dhule, Maharashtra. Have spoken to CM @Dev_Fadnavis, state govt is doing everything possible to assist the people in need. My condolences with the bereaved families. May injured recover soon," Shah tweeted.
(With PTI inputs)