Thursday’s explosion at a firecracker storage facility in New Tharagupet, central Bengaluru, started in cartons tightly stuffed with ring caps used in toy guns, police said, even as the death toll rose to three on Friday.
Known as cap gun ammo, ring caps are made from red phosphorus and strong oxidisers such as potassium chlorate and potassium perchlorate. They are placed in the cylinders of toy guns. With each trigger pull, the hammer point strikes the cap and creates a noise that’s louder than that created by roll caps.
Forensic experts have orally confirmed to the police that the firecracker remains found at the blast sites are ring caps, although it’s still unclear what exactly caused the explosion. Each of the cartons that exploded was stuffed with about 25 kilograms of ring caps. And it is this heavy concentration of ring caps in the cartons that is suspected to have triggered the blast that was so powerful that it severed the limbs of the two deceased men, a senior police officer said. An official report of the forensic examination is awaited. Only then will any further action be taken, he added.
Ring caps and toy guns are sold on a large scale during Deepavali. Police have taken samples, in particular the remains of firecrackers, from the blast site. The warehouse owner, Ganesh Babu, has confirmed the presence of ring caps in the cartons, the officer said.
Babu told the police that he had sourced a large quantity of firecrackers ahead of the Deepavali sale. The business was beginning to look up this year after a big drop in demand due to the lockdown in 2020. Police have taken him into custody and are questioning him about his business.
Meanwhile, Ranga Swamy alias Ambu Swamy, a 75-year-old hawker of sweets who had sustained serious injuries in the blast, died around 2.30 pm on Friday. Doctors had previously said that the chances of his survival were slim.
Swamy was hawking rasgulla and barfi to Madhu Tea Staff, located next door to the warehouse, when the explosion took place. His son, named Arun, has asked the authorities to take stringent action against shops and warehouses where explosives are stored illegally.
On Thursday, Aslam Pasha, 40, a puncture shop owner, and Manohar, 35, a goods vehicle driver, lost their lives in the blast. Three other injured — Ganapathi, 49, Manjunath, 40 and James, 43 — are under treatment.
The blast prompted the police to launch a search operation of buildings in New Tharagupet for illegally stored explosives.
While police didn’t find firecrackers anywhere, they did come across a large number of LPG cylinders stored without permission in a building. Police reported the matter to the fire and emergency services department for further action.
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