At least eight persons were killed due to asphyxiation after they got stuck inside a private scan centre that was engulfed by thick smoke following a fire accident in a nearby cracker shop in Sivakasi on Thursday.
The fire started as crackers were being offloaded from a vehicle to a shop.
Among the deceased are a few patients who were waiting at the adjoining pathological test centre, where the fire had quickly spread. Several vehicles parked in the area were also damaged.
On hearing the noise, the scan centre workers and patients rushed to a room and locked themselves in it. As fireworks went on bursting, the smoke filled the room.
Fire and rescue services personnel from Sivakasi, Srivilliputhur, Virudhunagar and Sattur rushed to the spot and carried out rescue measures.
“Since the entry to the scan centre was near the fireworks shop, people could not run away as crackers were bursting. They preferred to stay inside the scan centre and died of suffocation. We broke open the rear windows and pulled out 41 people to safety. Unfortunately eight of them died of suffocation,” a fire department official said.
Meanwhile, ministers have rushed to the spot and supervised relief works. They also presented aid to the victims, it is learnt.