Karnataka

At least five killed in explosion near Shivamogga

File picture shows an activity at a stone quarry in Karnataka's Chickballapur district. Representational image.  

At least five persons were killed in an explosion at a stone quarry near Abbalagere on the outskirts of Shivamogga city in Karnataka on Thursday night. The toll is expected to go up as bodies are yet to be retrieved from the site.

It is said that gelatin sticks exploded, killing the quarry workers from Bihar at the spot.

Ashok Naik, Shivamogga Rural MLA, said gelatin sticks in a truck exploded. “The cause of the explosion is not known. Senior officers have reached the spot. We have to wait for some more time to get more information,” he said.

The tremors caused by the blast was earlier mistaken to have been caused by an earthquake. This had led to some locals in nearby areas rushing out of their homes in the night. However, Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre later clarified that there was no recorded seismic activity.

Two bodies retrieved

Two bodies have been retrieved from the stone crusher unit near Shivamogga, where an explosion occurred late in the evening on Thursday.

Shivamogga District Collector K.B. Shiva Kumar told The Hindu: "Two bodies have been retrieved from the site. The reports suggesting death of more people is not substantiated by facts. The exact number would be known, once the technical team visits the place and clears it."

"A technical team from Bengaluru is reaching the spot", he said.

The incident happened in a licensed crushing unit, located in the safe zone. "The technical team would analyse the site and arrive at a conclusion on the material that exploded. Based on their assessment, we will proceed furtherm" Mr. Shiva Kumar said.

Residents shocked

The massive blast left the residents of Shivamogga in a shock on Thursday night. The residents heard huge sound and experienced tremors.

"I was walking near my home after my dinner, when we heard huge noise. The crusher site is about half a kilometre from our place. We noticed thick flame, followed by clouds of dust all over the place," said Rajendra Buradikatti, who lives nearby.

The police have cordoned off the area. The district administration is expecting the technical team to reach the spot.

Following reports in a section of the media about the quary belonged an agency that supplied ballast to the Railways, South Western Railway has clarified that the Railways were presently not obtaining ballast from any source in the area.

Leaders react

Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa has ordered a high level investigation into the explosion that occurred near Shivamogga on Thursday night.

In a tweet on Friday morning, the office of CM said he has ordered a high level investigation and culprits would be brought to book.

He has instructed the officers concerned to take up rescue operations, it added. Expressing shock over the death of several workers, Mr. Yediyurappa said it was an unfortunate incident.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi too took to Twitter to condole the loss of lives in the accident.

"Pained by the loss of lives in Shivamogga. Condolences to the bereaved families. Praying that the injured recover soon. The State Government is providing all possible assistance to the affected," he wrote.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said the news of the blast is tragic and that it called for an in-depth investigation so that similar tragedies do not recur.

"The news of blast at stone mining quarry in Karnataka is tragic. Condolences to the families of the victims," Mr. Gandhi tweeted.

Former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy said that politically influential people, cutting across parties, are involved in illegal quarrying and there should be a systemic change. "Honest officers are threatened and not allowed to legally regulate them," he said.

Minister for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj K.S. Eshwarappa, who is also minister in-charge of Shivamogga district, said that the State Government will take action against illegal stone crusher units and also those into illegal mining.

Speaking to presspersons in Shivamogga on Friday morning, the minister said the cause huge explosion could be known only after the expert team visits the place and analyses the incident.

"There are reports that people in distant places experienced tremors yesterday night. It is not yet clear what was the reason for the tremors. The technical analysis will clarify if the explosion caused the tremors," he said.

Further the minister said the government had taken action against illegal stone crushers and those into illegal mining. "We will take action against those responsible for the incident," he said.

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Printable version | Mar 1, 2021 6:58:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/killed-in-explosion-near-shivamogga/article33630291.ece

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