The death toll is now 12 in the landslip that occurred in the quarry of Hamsa Minerals and Exports Limited on Thursday.

The accident is believed to be the worst tragedy that struck the dollar-rich galaxy granite industry at Chimakurthi, 24 km from here.

Mining officials decided to blast the massive boulder, clear the debris and retrieve the bodies. Stating that they had to follow all safety norms and blast the boulder using scientific methods, Director of Mines V.D. Rajagopal said it would take 15 days to complete the daunting task.

While two bodies were recovered, 10 bodies lay trapped under sixty-foot high debris weighing about 35,000 tonnes. The victims were crushed under a single boulder measuring 1,000 cubic metres and weighing 3,500 tonnes.

The bodies of two victims — I. Sivachandra Prasad (25), slotter operator from Nellore district and Vengala Venkatarao (28), plant supervisor from Prakasam district — were recovered.

Nine workers buried under the debris were identified as Muthuram Jaypaul (30) and Munuswamy Murugan (38) from Perumbakam, Vannur taluk, Villupuram district, Tamil Nadu, V. Manjunatha Reddy (32) from Kadapa district, Chunchu Sudhakar (28), Chimakurthi (all poclain operators), Adapa Sathibabu (23), ranger helper from East Godavari district, Yelagala Saidulu, water engine operator from Guntur district, Yelagala Kondalu, slotter operator from Guntur district, Kamatham Nageswara Rao (36), slotter operator from Khammam district, Malineni Srinivsarao (26), worker from Chimakurthi. One more worker is yet to be identified.

Andhra Pradesh Minister for Mines Balineni Srinivasa Reddy has ordered closure of all the mines at Chimakurthi for three days to complete the rescue operations. Speaking to newspersons here, Mr. Srinivasa Reddy said that a high power committee would be constituted with officials of mines, mine safety and labour to inspect all mines for safety norms. Mines not following safety norms would be closed.

Firm to pay Rs. 5 lakh

Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Rajagopal said the accident was due to a shear zone in the rock. Secondly, the licencee was quarrying the stone vertically leaving no support for the sheer zone at the base. Thirdly, the accident happened in a buffer zone where no quarrying was permitted. Mr. Rajagopal has asked the Hamsa company to pay ex gratia of Rs. 5 lakh to the kin of each victim.