A twin blast, believed to have been triggered by cylinder burst, ripped through a three-storeyed building in Sumanahalli near Magadi Road here on Wednesday afternoon, killing a 17-year-old girl and injuring ten others, including five fire force personnel who went for a rescue operation.
The blast also triggered a fire that spread to a few residential buildings in the vicinity. The cause of the blasts, which had been initially thought to have been a cylinder burst, is yet to be ascertained as fingers are now being pointed out to a chemical unit operating in the first floor of the partially collapsed structure.
The victim has been identified as Kavitha (17), a resident of an adjacent house on whom a portion of the wall collapsed. The badly mangled body was found after more than four hours of rescue operation.
According to eye-witnesses, the ear shattering blast was reported around 1.30 p.m. in the three storeyed structure attached to Lakashmi Venkateshwara Kalayana Mantapa at Narasimainapalya.
While the ground floor of the building houses a kitchen, the chemical unit was operating in the second floor. The third and fourth floors had family as well as bachelor accommodations.
The flying debris caused considerable damage to about 6 adjacent buildings even as the scared residents ran helter-skelter. The force of the blast was such that window panes were shattered, vehicles were damaged and a few residents were injured. A mobile tower on the Kalyan Mantapa building has also been damaged.
Four year-old Chinmayi, who was playing along with her cousin Kavitha, who was later found dead, was trapped in the rubble as the wall collapsed on her. She was carried to safety by her father and rushed to a nearby private hospital where she was treated as out patient.
Sharadamma, who had returned home around 1.15 p.m., is seriously injured in the incident. However, her four-year-old son escaped as Sharadamma had dropped him at a relative’s house nearby before reaching home. She was rushed to Victoria Hospital by her nephew Narasimhamurthy. The others injured include Kantharaju, Veerappa and Ramanjanappa.
More was to come a little later. The fire force personnel, who rushed to the scene, entered the blast scene through the kalyana mantapa’s kitchen to start rescue operations were trapped when a portion of the building crumbled after another blast, raising fears about their safety.
It took almost half an hour for some local residents and other fire force personnel to pull out the five trapped personnel before rushing them to a nearby nursing home.
While fireman Govindraju’s condition is said to be critical, the other firemen Nagesh and Anandaiah, and fire station officers Raghavendra and Rangaswamy have been injured.
According to the Director of Fire and Emergency services B.G. Chengappa, the fire department received the call around 1.35 p.m. and two fire tenders were rushed to the spot. When they were putting out the fire, there was another explosion, triggered possibly by an LPG leak in which five fire personnel and two civilians were trapped.
"The fire personnel, who have been rescued, are out of danger. A beam fell on Govindraju and it had to be cut to rescue him" he said and added that earth moving equipment has been rushed to the spot. Meanwhile, an 8-member team from the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) reached the sport to identify the cause of the blast.