Three boys, aged between 14 and 17 years, were killed in a blast at a cracker unit in Rajanthangal village near Vettavalam on Sunday afternoon.
According to police, the victims - Chinnaraj (15), son of Siva and a resident of Pandithatattu, and Subash (15), son of Mani and a resident of Rajanthangal village, were school dropouts, while Ayyappan (17), son of Murugan of Rajanthangal village, was a class X student in a government school in the village.
The incident took place between 3.50 pm and 4 pm, Vettavalam police said.
The boys were working in the licensed cracker unit of Shanmugham, a resident of Rajanthangal village. The unit was located in Shanmugam’s agricultural land adjacent to the residential area.
The villagers, on hearing a deafening explosion from the unit, rushed to the spot and found the roof of the unit ripped apart. The three boys working at the unit were found dead, an official said.
The official added that the boys were engaged to manufacture crackers for a temple festival. “We are not sure about the cause of the explosion. We will know about it only after scientific experts visit the spot and investigate it,” said Chandrasekar, Inspector of Police, Vettavalam Station.
He added that there was no other person at the unit except for the three boys. The police recovered the body and sent it for a postmortem. Meanwhile, the villagers staged a protest against officials for failing to shift the cracker unit from the present location despite repeated pleas.
Talking to ‘Express’, Collector A Gnanasekaran said the unit was a licensed one and the owner of the unit had been renewing its licence since 1999. “The cracker unit owner had renewed the license till March 2014,” the Collector who visited the spot said. He, however, said that the police had registered a case against Shanmugham and begun investigations. Meanwhile, the district administration has ordered an RDO inquiry in connection with the case. “The RDO inquiry will look into aspects such as safety norms at the unit,” the Collector said.
On the villagers’ plea to shift the unit to another different location, the Collector said that he was not aware of the issue as he had assumed charge very recently. However, he promised to look into it.