A reactor blast at a chemical factory at Rajavaram under the limits of Payakaraopeta police station bordering Visakhapatnam and East Godavari districts, about 100 km from here, killed two persons and injured 26 others on Saturday.

Among the injured, 19 were admitted to hospital with minor injuries, Visakhapatnam SP Vikram Jeet Duggal said. The incident occurred at Deccan Fine Chemicals Pvt. Ltd at about 6 a.m.

The deceased have been identified as Ramu (36) of Narsipatnam and Subba Rao (31) of Alamuru (East Godavari). Both, working as chemists, died on the way to hospital. Tension broke out at the factory with the workers and people in the neighbourhood staging a dharna criticising the management for not taking enough safeguards to prevent the incident.

The fire was doused a few hours later after fire tenders from Tuni, Payakaraopeta and other places were rushed to the spot. The cause of the accident was not immediately known. Officials from the Factories Department took blast samples from the spot for chemical examination.  

Narsipatnam Additional SP Vishal Guni, after visiting the spot, told The Hindu that they had lodged a first information report and would go in detail into the circumstances that led to the accident.

The factory was set up a few years ago with an investment of over Rs.100 crore in an area of 35 acres for manufacturing synthetic, organic and bio-tech based chemicals. It has a production capacity of 4,750 tonnes per annum.