At least 13 people were killed and more than 20 others injured in an explosion at a private fireworks factory at Acchankulam near Sattur in Virudhunagar district of Tamil Nadu on Friday afternoon.
According to reports, nine bodies have been recovered in a charred condition from the spot while four people succumbed to their burn injuries at a nearby hospital. At least 10 rooms of the factory have been destroyed in the blast.
The cause of the explosion is yet to be ascertained. However, quoting an official, PTI reported that the blast occurred when some chemicals were being mixed to produce fireworks. Around 50 labourers were at the factory when the accident took place.
Several fire fighting units from Vembakkottai, Sattur and Virudhunagar were rushed to the spot to douse the fire.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each to the next of kin of those who lost their lives and Rs 50,000 to those seriously injured.
“Fire at a firecracker factory in Virudhunagar, Tamil Nadu is saddening. In this hour of grief, my thoughts are with the bereaved families. I hope those injured recover soon. Authorities are working on the ground to assist those affected,” Modi said in a tweet.
Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 3 lakh each to the kin of the deceased and Rs 1 lakh each for those critically injured. He has also ordered an investigation into the incident and assured due legal action.
"I was anguished to know that 36 persons have been injured in the explosion and have directed the officials to ensure due medical treatment to them," Palaniswami said in a statement.
The collectors concerned should conduct periodic checks at such units to ensure workers' safety, he said, adding the factories should follow due safety measures in view of the coming summer season, indicating high temperatures then could lead to similar mishaps.
Governor Banwarilal Purohit and Congress MP Rahul Gandhi were among the other leaders who condoled the deaths in the accident.