Sivakasi fire unit mishap: 36 killed; PM, Sonia express grief
At least 36 people were charred to death and 73 injured in a devastating fire that swept through a fireworks factory complex at Mudhalipatti near the country's fireworks hub in Sivakasi.
The toll might go up with 45 of the injured stated to be in a serious condition at various hospitals.
The fire that broke out when workers were mixing chemicals to make fancy fire crackers was so intense that the factory and 48 sheds in the complex exploded in flames, trapping many in the inferno, police and fire brigade officials said.
Virudhunagar District Revenue Officer R Raju told reporters late WEdnesday night that 36 people were killed and 73 injured, while sources in police and various hospitals in Sivakasi, Virudhunagar, Sattur and Madurai where the victims were rushed put the toll above 50.
The licence of the factory was suspended only two days ago, sources said, adding the entire production had been stored in a godown against official norms. The foreman of the unit had been arrested in connection with the mishap.
Explosions could be heard across more than two square km in the sleepy village as thick plumes of smoke engulfed the area with bodies burnt beyond recognition and scores of injured lay all round presenting a sight of a battle zone.Almost all those killed were workers, with some persons who rushed inside the Omshakthi factory complex to try and rescue those trapped inside also falling victim to the blaze, police and fire brigade officials said.
All the victims suffered more than 80% burns.
Fire fighters handicapped by lack of proper equipment, including masks, to tackle such major fires had to battle for four hours to douse the raging flames after struggling to enter the complex with thick smoke hampering their efforts.
Victims screamed for help and many of the injured were carried on motorbikes, cots and on the shoulders of rescuers to hospitals, according to eyewitnesses.
Officials said most workers were amateur and some trained in West Bengal were not fluent in Tamil to warn the people.