Four persons including three women died and seventeen workers sustained injuries in a blast at VBM Anandam cracker unit at Kinnimangalam village in the outskirts of Madurai on Tuesday evening.
The mishandling of crackers lead to the blast at around 5.30 p.m which resulted in the death of Chinna Ponnu (36) and Pothum Ponnu (19) on the spot. The worker Prabhu died on the way to hospital and Vijaya died in the Government Rajaji Hospital failing treatment.
The district collector L Subramanian cancelled the licence of the unit after inspecting the spot.
The VBM Anandam cracker unit belongs to one Chinna from Vadakanpatti near Chekkanurani. The cracker unit, located near the Chittampatti EB station, had violated all safety norms.
The police officer said about 80 people have been working in the cracker unit and most of them were women from the near by villages like Sikkanpatti and Vadakanpatti.
An injured worker said the blast occurred after a woman employee accidentally dropped a cracker plate that contained explosive materials. It immediately resulted in the blast, said the worker.
The blast was so intense that one of the deceased was thrown above the roof of the unit and another body shattered into pieces.
According to eye witnesses, workers were preparing crackers in the verandah of the factory, which is a violation, as the crackers must be prepared inside a room with adequate space for exit.
The death toll would have crossed over 20 had the accident occurred inside the cracker unit as almost all the rooms were loaded with cracker materials. Besides, the water was also kept in a long distance from the cracker unit. Most of the asbestos roofing of the cracker units cracked due to the intensity of the blast, added another eye witness.
The forensic team lead by R Meenakshi inspected the spot and collected vital materials from the spot, which also revealed that most of the works were carried without following the safety norms.