An inquiry is under way to confirm the presence of four minor boys at the unit

Seven persons, including two boys, were killed, while six others were grievously injured when firecrackers exploded while they were being packed. The explosion brought down two tiled houses of the firecracker unit in Parakallur village of Mecheri block in Salem district on Tuesday.

Police said the explosion took place around 2 p.m. when the firecracker manufacturing company’s licence-holder Santhi (35), along with workers, was involved in packing crackers near the tiled houses. Though the exact reason behind the explosion could not be ascertained, a senior police officer said it was suspected that some sort of friction led to the explosion.

The explosion caused the fire to spread to neighbouring tiled houses, which also were destroyed.

Fire and Rescue Services personnel from Mecheri rushed to the spot and doused the flames.

Bodies of Santhi, her son Surya (10), Sivagami (38) and Kesavan (12), were recovered from the debris, while Thangam (50), Vijaya (35), Eswari (35) died at the Salem Government Mohan Kumaramangalam Medical College Hospital. The injured, Vimala (17), Deepa (12), Palaniammal (40) and Sathish (19), were admitted to the government hospital, while two others, Manojkumar (12) and Pavithra (12), were admitted to a private hospital here. An inquiry is under way to confirm the presence of four minor boys at the unit.

“Workers were mostly relatives of the owner and hailed from the same village,” said the police officer.

Collector K. Maharabushanam, District Revenue Officer N. Prasanna Venkatesan, Superintendent of Police Ashwin M. Kotnis, Mettur MLA S.R. Parthiban and Dharmapuri MP R. Thamaraiselvan visited the site. They later visited the government hospital to enquire about the injured.

The Mecheri police are investigating.