16 dead, 32 injured in explosion, blaze at fireworks factory in India
Officials said that most of the deceased victims succumbed to burn injuries at the scene
INDIA — At least 16 workers were killed in a blaze at a fireworks factory in southern India on Friday, police said.
As many as 32 other workers were injured in the accident in a village in Tamil Nadu state's Virudhunagar district.
While most of the victims succumbed to burn injuries on the scene, others died at hospital, local police officer Raj Narayanan said by phone.
"There were a series of explosions followed by the fire which engulfed the unit. Several cracker-making sheds were completely gutted," Narayanan said.
"The blasts continued for a long time making it difficult for fire and rescue services personnel to enter the unit," he said, adding the firefighters were eventually successful in controlling the blaze.
The death toll could rise as several of the injured were said to be in critical condition.
Footage on domestic channels showed dense black plumes emerging from the factory as crowds of villagers gathered at the accident site.
Police said the plant was operating with the necessary licences but said they were trying to determine the cause of the accident and probe whether the unit was using permitted explosives and materials.
"Friction during mixing of chemicals appears to have caused the explosion," an officer from the local fire department told broadcaster NDTV.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered condolences for the lives lost in the accident even as state authorities announced a compensation for the families of the victims.
Firework factories in India often do not follow safety regulations and accidental explosions are reported from time to time. Twenty-three people were killed in a similar accident in northern India in September 2019.
Distressed to hear about the accident in Visakhapatnam, AP. Condolences to the families of those who lost their lives. Prayers with the injured. May they recover soon: PM @narendramodi— PMO India (@PMOIndia) February 12, 2021
Saddened to hear about the unfortunate fire accident at a firecracker factory in #Virudhunagar , Tamil Nadu.— Manishankar Pandey (@iManishankarP) February 12, 2021
My thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved families.
I pray to God to give them strength to Cope up with their loss.
Wishing for the speedy recovery of the injured. pic.twitter.com/vPBrkA95Kf
(c)2021 Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany)