One person was killed and five were injured after a reactor in a Gujarat chemical factory exploded in the early hours of Thursday, setting off a fire and, subsequently, toxic fumes. The premises of Hemani Industries, which manufactures pesticides and intermediate chemicals in Bharuch district’s Ankleshwar, have now been shut down, officials said.
The blast was triggered by an increase in reactor pressure, the cause of which is still unclear, said a police official.
Ankleshwar GIDC police said the mishap took place at around 1 am when all the workers were present during their shift. Six of them suffered severe burn injures as the hot toxic chemicals fell on them from the reactor. Their colleagues rushed them to a hospital, where Bihar born Salauddin Shaikh (31) succumbed to his wounds.
Firefighters brought the blaze under control in under two hours.
This is the second fire in a chemical factory in Gujarat within a week. On June 3, a similar blast at Yashashvi Rasayan Pvt. Ltd in Bharuch district’s Dahej SEZ had sparked a fire that killed 10 migrant labourers. The National Green Tribunal has slapped a Rs 25 crore penalty on Yashashvi Rasayan.
On Thursday, the police registered a case of accidental death at Hemani Industries and said it was investigating the mishap.
Manoj Kotadia, a fire official at GIDC Diasaster Management department, said: “There were around 70 staffers working in the night shift, on Wednesday night, as per the records from the company register. Due to the exothermic reactions, the unit where blast had taken place were covered with smoke and we somehow brought the fire flames under control and even the cooling process was done.”
The five injured workers are Aurangzeb Shaikh, Manoj Rai, Sujit Mohato, Laxman Kanozia, and Rajesh Shirvastav—all from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
Ankleshwar GIDC police inspector Z I Shaikh said: “There was some chemical process inside the reactor, and due to some unknown reason the pressure increased which resulted in blast and later to the fire. The hot chemical solutions fell on the six labourers who were standing nearby and they were wounded. We have started probe into the incident. The conditions of two labourers are still critical.”
Gujarat Pollution Control Board official R R Vyas said: “We reached the spot and found that the toxic chemicals came out from the reactor and spread into the atmosphere. The company was manufacturing pesticides and intermediate chemicals. At present the production in the company has been stopped and we are preparing a report.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines