VISAKHAPATNAM: In a horrific incident, at least five persons including three women died and 10 others were injured in a major explosion at a crackers manufacturing unit at Gokulapadu village in S Rayavaram mandal of Visakhapatnam district Sunday. The injured were shifted to Nakkapalle area hospital and later to a private hospital for better treatment. About four persons suffered more than 70 per cent burns and their condition is said to be critical.
The deceased were identified as N Satyavathi (28), L Seshamma (40), S Lakshmi (50) and S Ramana (27), from Gokulapadu, and M Sattibabu (45) from Payakaraopeta. All the bodies were charred beyond recognition. Family members of the deceased could only identify them by the ornaments and accessories worn by them. The Yelamanchili police took into custody N Nookaraju, owner of the manufacturing unit, Rohit Fireworks, and are investigating.
According to the Yelamanchili police and locals, the blast occurred around 5 pm at Rohit Fireworks in Gokulapadu village when one of the workers reportedly mishandled crackers during manufacturing. The impact of the blast was such that the charred bodies of Satyavathi and Lakshmi were found blasted about 100 m from the accident spot, while the sound of the explosion was reportedly heard from 2 km away. Fire personnel battled the flames for nearly an hour to control the blaze.
According to sources, Rohit Fireworks had obtained a license from the fire services department which is valid till March 31, 2016. The unit is housed in an asbestos structure with two rooms. Police suspect that one room that is used for storage could have increased the severity of the explosion.
“Nookaraju is learnt to have got bulk orders ahead of the marriage season and the workers were therefore in a hurry to meet the deadline,” a police officer said, speculating if that could have been one of the reasons behind the tragedy.
Besides the workers at the manufacturing unit, several farm labourers who were working in agricultural fields nearby suffered severe burns. However, the police are yet to ascertain the total number of workers inside the unit as well as those working nearby. They fear that the death toll may go up.
Learning about the incident, chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu directed the officials to visit the spot and ensure best medical care for the injured. Anakapalle MP Muttamsetty Srinivasa Rao rushed to the spot along with officials to oversee the rescue operations and medical treatment to the injured.
Ministers Ch Ayyanna Patrudu and Ganta Srinivasa Rao were in constant touch with the district officials and coordinated with the CM over the incident. The state government announced a compensation of `2 lakh each to the deceased from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.