At least 13 people were killed and 72 others injured in an explosion at a chemical factory in Maharashtra’s Dhule district on Saturday, police said. Many of the victims, police said, were family members of the factory workers residing in temporary shelters abutting the compound wall of the company.
Initial reports suggested that a leakage in a chemical-filled barrel could have led to the explosion of a boiler around 9.45 am at Rumit Chemisynth Pvt Ltd, a specialty chemical and intermediate manufacturing plant, located at Subhash Nagar in Shirpur taluka of Dhule district, around 400 km north of Mumbai.
The fire, police said, led to a trigger reaction causing nitrogen cylinders and chemical barrels kept on the factory premises to catch fire. There were at least 70 workers on the factory premises at the time of the incident.
At least seven of the deceased were women, while two others were children, aged 2 and 10 years.
“A total of 13 people were killed and 72 others injured in the incident. The women and children who were killed were family members of the workers of the company who were staying in houses near the factory compound,” Dhule SP Vishwas Pandhare said. “We are investigating into the cause of the incident. No case has been filed so far,” Pandhare said.
At least 10 fire engines were rushed to the blast site after the incident was reported. The fire was finally brought under control by afternoon, fire officials said. They added that fire-fighters had a difficult time in controlling the blaze due to the nature of the chemical.
Explosions at Maharashtra’s Dhule chemical unit, several feared dead.
Police said due to the intensity of the blast debris went flying all across, causing injuries to several residents in the houses near the factory. Locals claimed that some body parts, were recovered 200 metres from the factory premises. Several animals in the vicinity of the factory were also killed or injured in the incident, they said.
The shock waves from the blast also left cracks in some surrounding buildings in Subhash Nagar, and broke windowpanes of some vehicles parked nearby, police said. Windshields of some vehicles on nearby Ankleshwar-Burhanpur National Highway also broke due to the impact of the blast, following which authorities diverted the traffic on the highway.
Local residents claimed that a fortnight ago they had complained to the district administration about “noxious fumes” emanating from the plant.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis expressed grief over the loss of lives in the explosion and announced Rs 5 lakh compensation to the kin of the deceased.