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At least 17 people were feared dead in a blast that occurred at a factory manufacturing industrial explosive products near Trichy Thursday. The final death toll in the accident, which occurred at Murungapatti village near Thuraiyur, about 65 km from Trichy, is yet to be ascertained with rescue workers struggling to identify body parts found in debris in an area of 100 metres. Official sources said they are still trying to ascertain the number of workers who were on duty at the time of blast. Most workers at the unit were from nearby villages. The collapse of a part of the two-storey factory unit immediately after the blast trapped many inside.
The accident happened at around 7.30 am, an hour after the factory started operations for the day. Information collected by the police suggests that there were 22 people inside the factory unit at the time of accident. Five of them were rescued and are stable. “As the fire spread to attached units, many got trapped. We struggled to proceed with the rescue operation in heavy rain and fire that started after the blast,” said a police official.
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A high-level probe has been ordered by the district administration to look into the compliance of the license conditions by the factory unit, Vetrivel Explosives, a 16-year-old unit that supplies explosives that are used in lignite quarries.
Major industrial production units, including Neyveli Lignite Corporation in Tamil Nadu and several other units in Kerala are among the clients of Vetrivel Explosives, said an official. A senior police official said the preliminary inquiry suggests that the blast might have occurred when workers handled the explosive substances from the chemical tanks kept inside the unit. “It would have been severe as the explosives were meant for industrial use.
Hardly anyone survived to explain what happened. Those who were rescued were workers who were outside the factory premises ,” he said.
Trichy District Collector K R Palanisamy said that the owner of the factory will be arrested soon. “We have recovered specific remains of two dead bodies while another 15 remain missing. It is unlikely that we would be able to identify the remains….Only scientific tests will help us identify the missing persons,” he said.