Mumbai: Thirteen workers including six women were killed and 64 others injured in explosions of nitrogen gas cylinders at a chemical factory in North Maharashtra’s Dhule district on Saturday morning, police said.
Preliminary probe revealed that a chemical leak caused a fire which led to serial explosions at the factory of Rumit Chemsynth Pvt Ltd, located at Waghadi village in Shirpur tehsil, around 9.45 am, a senior police officer told PTI. By evening, the fire had been doused, and search was on for more bodies, if any, in the debris, he said.
“At least 100 workers were present in the factory at the time of the incident,” the officer added. Teams of fire brigade, police and the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) conducted the relief and rescue operations. The deafening sound of explosions caused panic in the vicinity, prompting people to rush out of houses. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis expressed grief over the deaths, and announced Rs 5 lakh compensation to the kin of the deceased.
“(District) Guardian Minister, collector, SP (Superintendent of Police) on spot. SDRF team reached… CM Devendra Fadnavis also announced 5 lakh to the kin of deceased,” the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) tweeted. Rumit Chemsynth manufactures chemicals used in the pharmaceutical industry.
The police officer said the presence of several nitrogen gas cylinders and barrels of chemicals in one place increased the severity of the tragedy. “Prima facie, a fire was triggered due to the leak of a chemical from a barrel, and it spread to cylinders causing blasts,” the officer said.
The injured were admitted to the Dhule civil hospital and Shirpur Cottage Hospital. All the deceased were identified. Six of them were women, police said. Riot Control Police were deployed at the spot along with local police to prevent any law and order situation.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to Fadnavis about the incident. “Anguished to learn about the loss of lives due to explosion at a chemical factory in Dhule, Maharashtra. Have spoken to CM @Dev_Fadnavis, state govt is doing everything possible to assist the people in need. My condolences with the bereaved families. May injured recover soon,” Shah tweeted.
State Labour Minister Sanjay Kute said a labour commissioner will conduct an inquiry as to whether the factory complied with the mandatory safety norms. Terming the incident as “unfortunate,” Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly Vijay Wadettiwar demanded a high-level probe. The Congress leader also sought a compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the kin of the deceased and Rs 2 lakh for the injured.