10 workers killed in firecracker unit explosion in TN’s Sivakasi

Ten workers, including six women, were killed and at least 10 others were hospitalised with severe injuries after an explosion at a firecracker unit at Sengamalapatti near Sivakasi on Thursday.

Four of the deceased — M Avudayammal (75), V Lakshmi (47), K Jeyalakshmi (25), and M Muthu (52) — of Sivakasi belong to the same family, sources said. The other victims were identified as C Ramesh (31), K Alagarsamy (35), and S Veeralakshmi of Mathiyasenai; G Kaleeshwaran (47) of V Chokkalingapuram; Vijayakumar (30) of Chinnayapuram; and S Vasanthi (50) of Gopuram Colony.

According to sources, the explosion at Shri Sudharsan fireworks happened around 2.30pm when the workers were engaged in cracker production. Three fire and rescue service teams of 21 personnel and multiple fire-tenders from Sivakasi and Virudhunagar rushed to the spot and the blaze was doused after nearly two hours. While five working sheds of the unit were partially damaged, one shed was completely gutted.

Rescue operations continued for hours and efforts are still on to clear the debris, sources said. Police and fire and rescue services personnel recovered the bodies of the deceased and sent them for postmortem to the Sivakasi Government Hospital. The injured are currently under treatment at the same hospital. One of the workers, who survived the explosion, said around 100 employees were working at the factory at the time of the blast and many fled the spot immediately.

S Selvam (32), an employee of a cracker unit located at Sankaralingapuram about six km away from the explosion spot, said the blast was so intense that they could hear the sound clearly even from such a long distance. “I rushed to the spot but since the crackers kept exploding continuously, officials and locals could not enter the unit and help the workers immediately,” he said.

Sivakasi East police have registered a case and owner Saravanan, manager Muthukumar, and foreman Suresh have been arrested. Preliminary investigation revealed that the explosion may have happened due to mishandling of chemicals by the workers.