Was it LPG or chemicals?
A twin blast, believed to have been triggered by leaking liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), ripped through a three-storey building in Sumanahalli near Magadi Road here on Wednesday killing a 17-year-old girl and injuring 10 others, including five fire-fighters.
The first blast triggered a fire that spread to neighbouring houses. The cause of the blast, initially suspected to have been due to LPG leakage from a cylinder, is yet to be ascertained as there are suspicions that volatile chemicals were stored on the first floor of the building.
The dead girl is Kavitha, who lived in a neighbouring house. She died when a portion of the wall collapsed on her. Her badly mangled body was found four hours after rescue operations began.
Eyewitnesses spoke of an ear-shattering blast around 1.30 p.m. in the three-storey structure attached to Lakshmi Venkateshwara Kalayana Mantapa at Narasimanapalya.
While the ground floor housed a kitchen, a dyeing unit was operating on the second floor. The third floor had family as well as bachelor accommodation.
Flying debris caused considerable damage to six adjacent buildings even as their terrified residents ran helter-skelter. The force of the blast was such that windowpanes were shattered, vehicles damaged and some five residents injured. A telecom tower on the choultry was also damaged.
More was to come. A second blast followed about half an hour later, bringing down portions of the building, trapping fire force personnel who had started rescue operations.It took the combined effort of other fire service personnel and local residents to pull out the five trapped men.
While fireman Govindraju's condition is said to be critical, those of Nagesh, Anandaiah, Raghavendra and Rangaswamy are not life-threatening.
Fire and Emergency Services Director B.G. Chengappa said a beam fell on Mr. Govindraju and it had to be cut to rescue him.
An eight-member team from the Forensic Science Laboratory is investigating the cause of the blasts.