Staff Reporter

BANGALORE: A senior operator was burnt alive in a fire that broke out at a chemical factory in Yelahanka New Town police station limits in the early hours of Monday.

The police suspect an electrical short circuit set off the blaze that caused a deafening explosion around 2 a.m. at Royal Laboratories Fine Chem situated at the industrial area at Puttenahalli, near 4th Phase, Yelahanka New Town.

Twenty-two employees work in three shifts at the unit owned by Anjan K. Rai. When the fire broke out, eight of them were at work at the factory, which manufactures chemicals for pharmaceutical use, the police said. One of them, senior operator Aiyannappa (53) of Doddaballapur in Bangalore Rural district, was burnt alive.

Venkatesh and Balakrishna, who were working on the first floor of the factory, suffered injuries when they jumped to safety. The two are in hospital. The others escaped unhurt.

Deputy Inspector-General of Police (Fire Services) T. Suneel Kumar told The Hindu that toluene and other combustible substances were stored at the factory and Aiyannappa was killed after toluene fell on him.

It took nearly four hours for six fire tenders to put out the fire. The factory was engulfed in thick smoke, Mr. Kumar said.

Assistant Commissioner of Police (J.C. Nagar Sub-division) U.P. Shivarama Reddy said though the factory authorities blame a short circuit, "we have requested the State Electrical Inspectorate to inspect the unit and find out the cause of fire."

The Yelahanka New Town police have registered a case.

The fire shocked residents in the neighbourhood who were awakened by the explosion. Anand Doraswami, a resident of Pavani Apartments, said that he heard a blast around 2 a.m. and then noticed the flames. "After the first explosion, we heard three or four smaller blasts," he said. "I immediately called the Fire Control Room and I was told that fire tenders were despatched to the spot," he added.

Suicide

Dejected over failing the SSLC examination, a 17-year-old boy committed suicide by hanging himself from a tree in Gowthampura area in Ulsoor police limits, according to the police.

The police said that the boy S. Sharath Kumar, son of Shivakumar, a plumber, hanged himself to death from a tree in front of his house on Sunday using a dupatta. The incident came to light on Monday.

Sharath Kumar was a student of BBMP High School in Jogupalya. The police, quoting his parents, said the boy had been dejected since the SSLC results were announced.

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