An electrical short circuit in a jeep carrying gelatine triggered an explosion killing 16 people and injuring 15 near Villupuram, 170 kms from Chennai.
The jeep was transporting gelatine from a licensed explosive godown in Mayilam to nearby quarries on Saturday morning. When it reached Senthur village on the Chennai-Tiruchy National Highway bystanders alerted the driver about smoke coming from beneath the engine.
The driver parked the vehicle, opened the bonnet and along with his attendant and the villager attempted to douse the fire with sand. Suddenly the vehicle exploded instantly killing the driver, the attendant and 10 locals assisting them. In the impact two passengers of another can parked nearby were also killed.
The shock waves of the explosion flattened four houses and a school building,
K Radhakrishnan, IG, North told HT. “It was a freak accident compounded by the presence of explosives in the vehicle,” he explained. He ruled out any LTTE or other extremist dimension to the incident since the vehicle was regularly used in transporting gelatine sticks to the quarries and its owner, Manalipetai Sekar, had a licence to sell explosives.