Five more persons who sustained severe burns in the LPG tanker tragedy at Chala here on August 27 died on Saturday, raising the death toll to 16.

Local residents of Chala continued to remain distressed as bodies of their dear and near ones continued to be brought for funeral.

Among those who visited Chala to console the bereaved families on Saturday included Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan and Communist Party of India (Marxist) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan.

The five who died of burns on Saturday are Vazhayil Omana, 75, Prasad, 33, of Devi Nivas, Ramees, 20, of Ramla Nivas, P. Rajan, 52, Assistant Sub-Inspector attached to the coastal police at Azhikkal, and Keshavan, 59, of Sreenilayam.

Rama, 50, and Geetha, 42, daughters of Omana had died of burns on August 29. Abdul Razakh, 60, and Ramlath, 50, parents of Ramees, had succumbed to injuries on August 30. The parents of Prasad - K.K. Krishnan, 75, and Devi, 59, - had died on August 31. Sreelatha, who was the first to die of burns on August 28, was the wife of Keshavan.

Mr. Achuthanandan and Mr. Vijayan were accompanied by CPI(M) leaders Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, P.K. Sreemathy, T.V. Rajesh, MLA, CPI leaders C. Divakaran, Janata Dal leader C.K. Nanu, A.K. Saseendran, MLA, and Congress (S) leader Ramachandran Kadannappally, among others.

VS seeks probe

Addressing a press conference after the visit, Mr. Achuthanandan demanded that the government take legal action against the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) as the tragedy was caused by the leakage and explosion of the tanker after it hit a road divider.

Demanding a high-level inquiry, he said the IOC should give a solatium of Rs.10 lakh each to the family of the dead in addition to the compensation announced by the government.

The Central and State governments should intervene urgently to ensure proper compensation to the families of the deceased and the injured. One person each in the family of the deceased should be given government employment.

He also demanded a comprehensive rehabilitation package for the area hit by the accident. Emergency rescue vehicles should be arranged in all districts, he added.

At a separate press meet, Mr. Vijayan said the tanker tragedy should be treated as a national disaster. Compensation for the families of the victims should be given jointly by the State and Central governments and the IOC, he said.

He also demanded that the compensation to the families of the dead should be granted on the basis of the remaining members of the family. Special consideration should be given to the injured who would not be able to work after their recovery, he said, adding that such individuals should be adequately compensated.

At least one member of the family of the deceased should be offered government employment, he demanded.

Demanding a detailed probe into the tragedy, the CPI(M) leader said the government had failed to send a medical team with expertise in treating burns to the district the day after the tragedy.

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