Three people, including a woman, were charred to death and six others suffered grievous burns after explosives went off at a firecracker-manufacturing unit at S Gollapatti village in Tamil Nadu’s Salem district around on Thursday, 1 June.
At least 14 people have been killed in separate blasts at three firecracker units in Tamil Nadu since 1 March this year.
The deceased in the Salem blast have been identified as Sathishkumar (35), the owner of the unit, and S Nadesan (50). The deceased woman is yet to be identified.
P Vasantha (45), V Mohana (38), R Manimegalai (36), V Maheswari (32) M Brindha (28), and A Prabhakaran (31) suffered burns. They are undergoing treatment at the Salem Government Mohan Kumaramangalam Medical College and Hospital.
All of them suffered more than 50 percent burns and were critical.
Sources said Sathishkumar had been running the small cracker unit and a warehouse attached to it. He supplied firecrackers in bulk to temples.
On Thursday evening, a huge explosion ripped through the building, destroying it. The deceased and the hospitalised people were in the building when the explosives went off.
The villagers who rushed to the scene said fire had engulfed the building by the time they reached the unit. They informed the the fire and rescue service department and the police.
The Salem Steel Plant police and two fire units from the steel plant and Suramangalam fire stations battled for two hours to bring the blaze under control.
Salem City Police Commissioner B Vijayakumari and Revenue Department officials visited the scene and oversaw the rescue operations.
Vijayakumari said that the cracker unit held a valid licence till 2025, besides no-objection certificates (NOCs) from the departments concerned.
The police have launched a probe to ascertain the reasons for the blast. Chemicals collected from the scene were sent for forensic analysis.
Solatium of ₹3 lakh
Chief Minister MK Stalin condoled the incident and announced a solatium of ₹3 lakh each to relatives of the deceased and ₹50,000 each to the injured. The solatium would be providedfrom the Chief Minister’s relief fund.
சேலம் மாவட்டத்தில் பட்டாசுக் கிடங்கில் ஏற்பட்ட விபத்தில் உயிரிழந்தவர்களின் குடும்பத்தினருக்கு ஆறுதல் மற்றும் நிதியுதவியை மாண்புமிகு முதலமைச்சர் @mkstalin அவர்கள் அறிவித்துள்ளார். pic.twitter.com/psRLNvCFvV
— CMOTamilNadu (@CMOTamilnadu) June 1, 2023
AIADMK general secretary and Opposition Leader Edappadi K Palaniswami offered his condolences and urged the state government to inspect all firecracker units across the state to avoid such incidents in the future.
Incidentally, the blast at Salem was the third since 1 March. On 22 March, 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.
Two women, were killed and a man was injured in a blast at a firecracker unit at Nagadasampatti village in the Dharmapuri district on 16 March.
While the deceased were identified as K Muniammal (65) and B Palaniammal (50). P Sivalingam (47) suffered grievous injuries and was admitted to Dharmapuri district hospital.
Earlier, on 31 December, 2022, four people were killed and five others injured when firecrackers stocked in a house at Moganur Metutheru in the Namakkal district exploded.
Houseowner Thillai Kumar, his wife Priya, his mother Selvi, and a woman next door were killed in the incident. Kumar’s five-year-old daughter suffered injuries in the blast.