Updated: January 22, 2021 2:59:17 pm
Hours after a massive explosion that took place near a gravel and boulder crushing facility killed at least five people in Karnataka’s Shivamogga district, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa Friday ordered a high-level probe into the incident and announced Rs 5 lakh compensation to the families of the deceased.
“Five people have died in the explosion at a quarry in Hunasodu village of Shivamogga district yesterday. A compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the kin of the deceased will be given,” he said, adding that he would visit the spot soon.
The chief minister further said that illegal mining would be “strictly dealt with” by the government now. “We will take action based on the investigation report. We will stop all illegal minings in the state,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Yediyurappa said, “I had instructed the authorities last night to take all necessary measures for rescue operations and others. A high-level probe has also been ordered. Strict action will be taken against the guilty,” Yediyurappa said. He added that the incident was “tragic and highly unfortunate”.
Following the incident, the quarry owner and a person who allegedly supplied dynamite to him were arrested by the police. “Preliminary investigation reveals a big quantity of dynamite exploded there citing some negligence by the quarry owner and the operators. The police have already arrested the quarry owner and the dynamite supplier. Further investigation is on,” Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai said.
Mines and Geology Minister Murugesh Nirani said, “Approximately six labourers have lost lives and several are critically injured in a powerful explosion at a stone quarry there. It is suspected that gelatin sticks in a truck near the quarry exploded killing the labourers.”
Meeting reporters in Bengaluru before leaving for Shivamogga, Nirani added that stringent action will be taken against the culprits responsible for the explosion.
However, Deputy Commissioner K B Shivakumar denied reports that mentioned over 10 deaths due to the explosion. “On completion of a thorough search in the area, we have recovered five dead bodies. Claims and reports that 10 to 15 people have died are not factual and are baseless,” he said.
“There was no worker at the site then when the incident occurred late night. All the people who worked here regularly are safe. We have confirmed it,” he added.
Meanwhile, Shivamogga MP B Y Raghavendra who visited the spot said, “A massive explosion with a loud sound and vibration had taken place yesterday night near Hunsodu village. The explosion was due to dynamite or explosive material. An investigation is on now, with the help of bomb squads arriving from Bengaluru and Mangaluru.”
He added that around 50 crushers and quarries were operational in the area “with the license from the district administration.” “They (people operating crushers) had been supplying (material) not only for Railways but also for all development works including residential purposes and public work.” he added.
At the same time, district in-charge minister K S Eshwarappa said action will be taken against the guilty as soon as the report is submitted by experts. “This has never happened before in Shivamogga. We will take strict action based on the report submitted by experts coming in from Bengaluru,” he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to express his pain at the loss of lives saying the state government is providing all possible assistance to the affected.
“Pained by the loss of lives in Shivamogga. Condolences to the bereaved families. Praying that the injured recover soon. The State Government is providing all possible assistance to the affected,” he tweeted.
Pained by the loss of lives in Shivamogga. Condolences to the bereaved families. Praying that the injured recover soon. The State Government is providing all possible assistance to the affected: PM @narendramodi
— PMO India (@PMOIndia) January 22, 2021
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also expressed his condolences over the incident saying such incidents call for an in-depth investigation so that similar tragedies can be avoided in the future.
“The news of blast at stone mining quarry in Karnataka is tragic. Condolences to the families of the victims. Such incidents call for in-depth investigation so that similar tragedies can be avoided in the future,” he tweeted.
The news of blast at stone mining quarry in Karnataka is tragic.
Condolences to the families of the victims. Such incidents call for in-depth investigation so that similar tragedies can be avoided in the future.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) January 22, 2021
According to sources in the district administration, the blast took place near a gravel and boulder crushing facility around 10.30 pm on Thursday. “The high-intensity blast shook villages and several areas even in neighbouring Chikmagalur and Davangere districts.
Meanwhile, a senior police officer added that several people complained that window panes were shattered in houses located nearby. “Many mistook the blast initially as an earthquake but geologists ruled out the same. Some roads have developed cracks as well.”
The officer added, “Over 50 dynamite and gelatin sticks were carried in the truck on the outskirts of the city when the incident took place. The reason why they were carried in a truck late at night is yet to be ascertained.”
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