At least three persons were killed and several injured after a massive explosion in a chemical factory in the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation area in Tarapur town on Thursday night. Manjunath Singhe, Palghar SP, said the number of casualties could up, adding that the search and rescue operation is currently underway.
The three deceased have been identified as Pintu Kumar Gautam, Janu Adaria and Alok Nath. All three had suffered blast impact. A total of six chemical factories were affected by the fire. “The fire has come down, but few areas are still burning. Six factories were affected by fire. Novaphene, Unimax, Prachi, Arti, Bharat Rasayan, Darbar. All chemical factories,” he said.
All fire brigade and police staff have been advised to wear masks. Initial reports suggest a boiler containing industrial solvent burst under high temperature and pressure. Revenue, police, fire, medical teams have been pressed into service. The entire area has been cordoned off as teams are trying their best to extinguish the fire.
“The reverberations of the blast were strongly felt in 8-10 kilometre radius. Vibrations were felt till Palghar,” a police official from Boisar police station said. The impact of the blast shattered window panes in buildings as far as three kilometers away, including Boisar police station.
The first blast occurred in Novaphene Specialties Private Limited in E-107 unit of MIDC at around 11.10 p.m on Thursday.
Workers in neighbouring factories claim several labourers were working in the factory where the blast occurred at night. Fire officials claim they will wait for fire to die out in its own before conducting cooling operations. The search operations for suspected labourers who may be trapped inside will start after that.
The factory manufactures speciality chemicals and cosmetic preservatives dealing in high purity acid and acid anhydrides. It also owns a manufacturing unit in Dahisar. From Novaphene, the fire spread to adjoining factories— Aarti Drugs, Prachi Pharmaceuticals Pvt Ltd, Bharat Vasayan and Unimax. Prachi Ltd is an iodine salt manufacturer, while Aarti Drugs manufactures vitamins and antibiotics. Aarti Drug’s staffer Sunil Yadav said he heard a loud explosion while he was working at night.
Fire in chemical factories at #Tarapur , Palghar . Initial reports states that fire started after a chemical container blast #video by @Amit_Photowalla @IndianExpress @ExpressImages pic.twitter.com/VkyTNMxppB
— Neeraj Priyadarshi (@neerajexpress) March 8, 2018
“After the explosion, there was a lot of smoke everywhere and the electricity got cut. The entire building shook and everything fell around us. Around eight labourers with me ran out of the factory,” he said. Yadav, a native of Madhya Pradesh, sustained a head injury. According to fire officials, 11 fire tankers were rushed to the spot. “The fire was too big to control. It quickly spread to nearby factories. All precautionary measures are currently in place,” Palghar police superintendent Manjunath Singhe told The Indian Express.
Locals claim at least 22 tankers, of varying capacity between 100-200 liters, burst due to the fire in all the factories. At least two injured remain in critical condition. Prima facie, it appears that the boiler blast in Novaphene occurred due to irregular storage of solvent, district collector Prashant Narnawre said. There are around 1,100 chemical plants and additional 400-500 other factories in MIDC Tarapur.
A Boisar police station official said, “The blast was so massive, windows in police station shattered. I was in my house, which is five km from the spot and our window panes started shaking by the impact.” Those injured were rushed to Thunga, Sanjeevani, Vikas, Anand and government rural hospital in Palghar.
The collector added that aid was asked for controlling the fire from Vasai-Virar Municipal corporation, Tarapur Atomic Plant and Reliance thermal power station.