Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Thursday ordered a magisterial inquiry into Wednesday’s blast at a private fireworks unit at Mudalipatti, near Sivakasi, even as the Virudhunagar police arrested 12 persons.

Thirty-eight persons died and 55 are being treated in various hospitals.

The probe by the District Revenue Officer would go into how the factory functioned on September 5, a day after its licence was cancelled, and the cause of the blast, an official release said.

The State government had allocated Rs.1.13 crore for establishing a burns ward at the Sivakasi government hospital. Steps would be taken to open an intensive care unit, an operation theatre, a plastic surgery unit, an orthopaedic unit, a physiotherapy unit and a rehabilitation centre; double the bed strength to 60 and make the burns ward a centre of excellence under the control of the Madurai Medical College Hospital. A total of Rs.4.50 crore would be earmarked, the release said.

The Virudhunagar Collector was directed to make an immediate inspection of all cracker units.

These decisions were taken at a meeting chaired by the Chief Minister to discuss preventive measures.

The factory obtained licence from the Chief Controller of Explosives, Nagpur, in 2006. An inspection on August 28 by the Deputy Chief Controller of Explosives, Sivakasi, pointed to many deviations: chemical products were stored in excess of the permissible levels and there were more employees than allowed. Also, the space meant for safety purposes was encroached upon.

Citing these violations, the official, on September 4, ordered revocation of the licence. A copy of the order was received by the Collector the next day, the release said.

Report being prepared

Special Correspondent reports from New Delhi:

Taking serious note of the fire, which occurred a day after the licence of Om Sakthi Fireworks Industries was cancelled, Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma has ordered an inquiry into the whole incident.

It will be conducted by Chaitanya Prasad, IAS, under Section 9 (a) of the Explosives Act 1884, says an official statement. Three officers of the Deputy Chief Controller of Explosives, Sivakasi field office, have been at the accident spot — at Mudalipatti — since Wednesday. The Chief Controller of Explosives and the Joint Controller reached there on Thursday and are preparing a report on the accident.