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Updated: September 25, 2013 02:47 IST

Eerie similarities with past tragedies

Special Correspondent
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Accident at Vadakkampatti unit in 2009 was also just days after an inspection by officials

Among the worst-ever cracker unit accidents in the State was the one that took place on July 7, 2009, at Vadakkampatti, some five km away from Tuesday’s cracker unit blast site. As many as 16 persons, including children, were killed at the Vadakkampatti unit where similar violations of safety norms were discovered. That accident took place late in the evening – around the same time as the blast in the V.B.M. cracker unit near Chekkanoorani that killed four persons and injured 18 others.

The V.B.M unit was licensed by the District Revenue Officer in 2002. The factory was inspected by the Revenue Divisional Officer, Usilampatti, last Monday. “He did not find any kind of violation on that day,” the Collector said.

He added that he had ordered the inspection of all cracker units in the district to check violation of safety norms in the run up to Deepavali. The unit is located amidst uncultivated paddy fields where a few residential buildings have come up.

Fire tenders and ambulances had to use a 200 m-long dirt track to reach the factory Divisional Fire Officer K. Karuppaiah said two fire tenders were rushed to the spot.

Besides the violation of safety norms and the timing of the accident, the most striking similarity is that both the units were inspected by officials only a few days before the blasts. The police had inspected the Vadakkampatti unit four days before the accident in the year 2009.

The then Director General of Police K.P. Jain had said the inspecting police officials had not seen any violation of safety norms. The Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation will probe the V.B.M. fire accident on Wednesday.

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