8 killed in TN firework unit blast

A sudden explosion in a fireworks factory near Mecheri in Tamil Nadu’s Salem District on Tuesday afternoon killed eight people including five women and critically injuring six others.

Tragedy struck the privately-owned unit which makes fire-crackers mostly for local Temple and other festivals. The blast took place in one of the work-sheds and the fire soon spread destroying the three units in the vicinity.

While the firework unit’s license-holder, 35-year-old Shanthi, was killed in the explosion, the dead include four other middle-aged women, Sivakami, Thangam, Vijaya and Easwari, besides two boys, Surya,10, Kesavan,15, official sources said.

The death toll could go up as six others in the premises including three children, Deepa, Vimala and Pavithra all aged around 11 years, two boys and a 40-year-old man have been admitted to the government hospital in Salem, sources said.

The mishap occurred in one of the sheds where crackers are made with ammonium nitrate and charcoal, said Salem District Collector, K Maharabhushanam, who along with the District SP, Ashwin Kotnish, rushed to the spot to oversee the rescue and relief efforts. Officers told Deccan Herald that further investigations were on.

It is suspected that a large number of children were among the dead and injured since Tuesday being a national holiday the children might have accompanied their parents to the work-place. However, investigations revealed that all workers were inter-related.

Ironically, Shanthi’s husband, Saravanan, who was the original license holder, had died in a similar blast few years ago and the fireworks factory’s license was transferred to his wife in 2009, Kotnish pointed out, citing initial information flowing from the investigations. 
“The license is now under renewal, but they are allowed to make fireworks even as the due process is on,” he said.

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