Five people died, scores were injured and more than 40 buildings were damaged by the boiler blast in Dombivli on Thursday.
People up to six kilometres away reported hearing the explosion. A fire broke out after the blast, around 11.30am, and was doused in a couple of hours by seven fire engines from Dombivli MIDC, Ambernath, Navi Mumbai, Ulhasnagar, Thane, Kalyan-Dombivli and Badlapur.
More than a dozen private tankers were also used to put out the fire and for the subsequent cooling operation. Another minor explosion took place at 1.45pm but no casualties were reported.
One of the five people killed was yet to be identified as of Thursday night. The remaining four are Dnyaneshwar Hajare, Mahesh Kode, Raju Shingare and Neelam Dhete, according to the Manpada police.
After the initial explosion, local residents rushed to the spot along with employees of companies in the area to help take the injured to hospital. Some residents offered to drive the victims to hospitals in their cars.
Amit Vengurlekar, a resident of the area, said, “After taking a bath, I went near a window in my house to pray. The moment I closed my eyes I heard a loud explosion, which caused the window pane to shatter, injuring my hands and legs.
I woke up my family members immediately and told them to rush downstairs.” Priti Pagare, a resident of Dombivli MIDC, said, “I was cooking when explosion took place. I heard a loud blast and before I knew what was happening, my family members started shouting at me to get out of the house. Soon, the area was covered in thick smoke. We rushed downstairs, but a few people were injured on the crowded staircase. Once downstairs, we stood at a distance from the building as we feared it would collapse. Meanwhile, few of us called the police and fire brigade.”
A police official from Thane commissionerate said more than 40 residential buildings were damaged by blast, and scores of vehicles too. “We have taken note of this and are in the process of registering a case against the owner of the factory,” he said.
Rajesh Vaishampayan, a resident of Kopar, around 6km from the blast site, said, “We heard the explosion but thought it had come from a construction site.”
Aditya Patwardhan a resident of Dombivli MIDC, who also works there, said, “For a moment I felt like I had gone deaf. I was working in a lab at the time, and the explosion caused test tubes to shatter. We were evacuated immediately and told to stand in an open space, away from buildings.”