Blast at Virudhunagar fireworks factory in Tamil Nadu kills 10 people

The injured were shifted to the Sivakasi Government Hospital for treatment. The toll is expected to rise as rescue operations are ongoing.

BySouth First Desk

Published Feb 17, 2024 | 4:41 PMUpdatedFeb 17, 2024 | 6:36 PM

Fire accident site

10 people have been killed and about 10 others have been grievously injured in an explosion in a fireworks factory in Virudhunagar, Tamil Nadu, on Saturday, 17 February.

The police said that the deceased included four women.

Though the reason for the blast is being ascertained, preliminary investigation suggests that overcrowding in the chemical mixing room could have triggered the blast.

Chief Minister MK Stalin has condoled the deaths and has announced ₹3 lakh solatium for each of the deceased, and ₹1 lakh for the injured.

Stalin has also directed State Revenue Minister KKSSR Ramachandran and Labour Minister CV Ganesan to immediately rush to the spot and ensure rescue and relief activities, an official release in Chennai said.

The explosion

The accident occurred at the fireworks factory of the company Winner.

The impact of the explosion was such that four rooms of the warehouse were razed to the ground.

Fire and rescue services arrived at the spot following the accident, and rescue operations are ongoing. Search is on for more people possibly trapped under the rubble.

“Initially 9 persons died due to the explosion and 3 who were injured were rushed to Sivakasi Government Hospital for treatment,” the Collector said.

He added, “The factory owner had a licence.”

Speaking of the reason for the blast, Virudhunagar district Collector VP Jayaseelan said, “Preliminary enquiry revealed that there was overcrowding in the chemical mixing room and that the explosion could have been triggered when the chemical was being handled.”

Asked how the explosion happened, the Collector replied “It could have been due to a human error. We have ordered a thorough enquiry by an inter-departmental team.”

The incident occurred under the Vembakottai Police Station limits and is being investigated.

‘Quality checks necessary’

Tamil Nadu’s Leader of Opposition, Edappadi K Palaniswami, expressed his deepest condolences to the workers who lost their lives.

Taking to X, the LoP wrote, “Apart from conveying my deepest condolences and sorrows to the families of the deceased, I urge the Tamil Nadu government to take all the necessary steps for the speedy recovery of those injured in the fire accident until they return home.”

He urged the DMK government to do quality checks on the fireworks units to see if the factories operating across Tamil Nadu are following appropriate safety measures.

Also Read: Blasts at 2 firecracker units in Tamil Nadu kill 14 people

Past incidents

Since 31 December 2022, Tamil Nadu has witnessed over 40 deaths due to accidents or explosions in firecracker units.

On 15 December 2023, a 36-year-old worker was killed in an explosion in the Virudhunagar district.

B Shanmugaraj died on the spot following the blast at the firecracker unit functioning at Panayadippatti village in Vembakkakottai taluk of the district.

On 17 October 2023, the villages of Rangapalayam and Kitchanaickenpatti in Virudhunagar saw two separate fire accidents at two fireworks units, killing at least 14 people.

While 13 people died in the blast at the Rangapalayam firecracker unit, another man died at the blast in the Kitchanaickenpatti firecracker unit.

On 29 July 2023, nine people were killed when a blast ripped through a firecracker godown at Palayapettai town in Tamil Nadu’s Krishnagiri district, injuring 11 others.

On 22 March 2023, nine people were killed, and at least 17 others sustained burns in a series of explosions at a firecracker-manufacturing unit in the Kancheepuram district.

(With PTI inputs)