Fire brought under control by midnight; several houses and shops damaged

An LPG tanker lorry exploded near the Chala temple, six km from the town, around 11 p.m. on Monday, leaving at least 12 persons, including women, with burns. Six of the seriously injured have been taken to the Pariyaram Medical College Hospital.

The fire spread extensively in the area following the explosion, but by midnight the blaze was brought under control, reports said. Though it was a major accident, the scale of destruction was much less than what was feared initially, as rescue operations were initiated by the police and Fire and Rescue Services personnel immediately after the explosion. The police cordoned off the area.

Reports said the driver and the cleaner of the lorry had not been located. Whether or not they were injured is not known.

Police and Fire and Rescue Services personnel from Kannur and Thalassery rushed to the spot to secure the area and check the spread of the fire. Reports said there were two explosions. Local people said that they could see fire raging in the area. Even the Fire and Rescue Services personnel could not initially reach near the spot because of the extensive fire that covered a large area. There were reports that the explosion occurred after the driver alighted from the lorry on finding a gas leak.

Initial reports said five houses had caught fire following the explosion. People rushed out of the houses soon after. Several shops in the area have been destroyed. Top officials, including police officers, have rushed to the spot. Ambulances from Kannur and Thalassery were summoned.

Fire units from different parts of the district were pressed into service to bring the fire under control. Hundreds of local people were engaged in taking the injured to nearby hospitals. The police said vehicular traffic in the area was stopped following the incident.

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