‘Didn't know what was in bag’: Driver who transported explosives before blast
- Villagers felt the vibrations from the explosion even a kilometre away
“I didn’t know what they had in the bag. I was sleeping in my room and they asked me to come with them for some work. Once we reached the forest area, I waited outside, and these men went in with the bag. Then there was a blast.”
Seated in his pickup truck, with blood oozing from his legs, Mohammed Riyaz Ansari explained what transpired before the blast in Karnataka’s Chikkaballapur on Tuesday. Ansari’s pickup was used by the quarry employees to transport the explosives.
“I was trying to open the door when the blast happened. There are injuries on my hands, and it is bleeding a lot from my legs,” he said showing injuries, in a video shot on a mobile phone soon after the incident.
Six men were killed in a dynamite blast when they were allegedly trying to dispose of illegally procured explosives.
An ambulance driver, who ferried the injured, said they received a call about the incident around 1.20 am. “We reached the location around 1.40 am. We were initially told it was an accident, but when we reached the location, we realised there was a blast and there were five people.”
Villagers felt the vibrations from the explosion even a kilometre away. “I thought the roof of my house would fall on me and I ran out of the house,” said Venkatappa, a resident of Hirenagavalli, an area close to the location of the blast.
D Sudhakar, who is the minister in charge of the district, said the explosives belonged to the quarry closed down on February 7 for not storing explosives properly and not having an engineer at the site. “…we suspect that fearing further inspections, the owners must have got some employees to move the explosives to a forested area in Gudibande, around 1km away from the quarry,” he said.
“The bomb disposal team...said that even signals from mobile phones could have triggered the explosion. But they are investigating further,” Sudhakar said.
Police have identified three owners of the quarry and legal action has begun.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the deaths. “Pained by the loss of lives due to a mishap at Chikkaballapur in Karnataka. Condolences to the bereaved families. Praying that the injured recover quickly: PM,” he tweeted.
This is the second such blast in Karnataka in the last month. On January 22, eight people were killed in a dynamite blast at a railway crusher site in Shivamogga.