The deceased were mostly onlookers standing inside the factory premises

The government hospital at Sivakasi was teeming with wailing men and women on Wednesday as bodies of those killed in the Mudalipatti cracker unit blast, piled up at its mortuary. Torn flesh, stench of blood and broken limbs presented a gory sight. Whenever an ambulance drove in, the crowd ran behind to find out whether any of their missing family members, relatives or friends was inside.

One among the dead was Antony Raj, a supplier of raw material to the factory. He went there to collect his dues when the explosion occurred, according to his relative Kumar.

R. Muneeswaran (20) of Chelliah Nayakkanpatti, who was one among the injured, said he was working near the gate when all of a sudden a deafening blast took place. “I was hit by bricks,” he recalled. Indirajit (25) of Poochakkapatti Ravindra Colony, who was working as a loadman in the factory, said after the blast bricks flew from nowhere and hit him on his head and leg.

The deceased were mostly onlookers standing inside the factory premises. They were killed after a godown exploded. The debris of brick and concrete hit them at high speed. The 20 dead persons brought to Sivakasi GH were identified as A. Thangavelu (40) of Govindanallur, K. Marimuthu (27) of Jaminsalwarpatti, R. Salaimuthu (20) of Tiruthangal, I. Adhilakshmi (50) of Tiruthangal, Madapurathan (alias) Kaliraj (19) of Sivakasi, A. Murugan (39) of Tiruthangal, M. Selvam (32) of Sivakasi, M. Subramani (45) of Chelliahnayakkanpatti, S. Subbiah Kani (31) of Chinnaramalingapuram, S. Pavunraj (30) of Sivakasi, S. Ponraj (18) of Chelliahnayakkanpatti, B. Kandasamy (47) of Chinnaramalingapuram, R. Chandramohan (20) of Sivakasi, G. Paittan (20) of Sivakasi, K. Venkatachalapathy (40) of Tiruthangal, C. Antony Raj of Thevarkulam, P. Inbasekaran(40) of Perapatti and K. Muthumanickam (35) of Pallapatti. One body is yet to be identified.

Two among the injured were immigrant labourers from Kolkata. Twelve bodies were kept at Sattur Government Hospital, one at Virudhunagar Government Hospital and one at Madurai Government Rajaji Hospital.

Selvakumar (32) and Balaguru (25) of Sengamalapatti, who were among the onlookers, suffered injuries after the debris hit them. Lakshmi (52) and Pavunthai (63) of Tiruthangal suffered 100 per cent and 60 per cent burn injuries and were admitted to the Burns Ward. A team of doctors from Kovilpatti and Srivilliputhur government hospitals, primary health centres and ESI hospitals were treating the injured.

Former DMK Minister K. K. S. S. R. Ramachandran, who visited the hospital, called for the payment of Rs. 5 lakh by the factory owner as compensation, along with Rs. 5 lakh from the Chief Minister’s relief fund. He also said stern action should be taken against the owners as accidents were happening at a high frequency these days.

Hospital workers were seen replacing tube lights with new ones and cleaning the premises just ahead of a proposed visit of Ministers from Chennai.

Shastry V. Mallady adds from Madurai

Six persons who suffered multiple injuries in the accident were admitted to the Government Rajaji Hospital in Madurai in the evening. While eight persons were rushed in ‘108’ ambulances, two were declared brought dead and the other six were admitted to the emergency ward.

T. Swaminathan, Medical Superintendent, said that the first case was received at around 5 p.m. and immediately all arrangements were made for emergency treatment. “We are on alert right from afternoon when the explosion took place. Of the six male patients who were admitted to burns ward, two suffered head injuries and the others are treated for multiple blast injuries,” he said.

The hospital authorities made the disaster ward ready to receive emergency cases and all required fluids and antibiotics were kept ready. Plastic surgeons and general surgery specialists have been asked to monitor the situation and handle burns cases. Another special ward with 15 beds is ready at the trauma care wing to receive more patients. The assistance of Public Works Department had been sought to make quick arrangements in the ward, hospital officials said.