Karnataka

Six dead in gelatine stick explosion near quarry in Karnataka

A scene from the blast site in Chikkaballapur district   | Photo Credit: Sudhakara Jain

Six people were killed in a gelatine stick explosion near a quarry and crushing site at Hirenagaveli village, Chikkaballapur district, in the intervening hours between Monday and Tuesday.

According to initial reports, the explosion occurred when the deceased were carrying gelatine sticks used for blasting rocks to conceal them in the forest area nearby. All six were killed on the spot.

Among the deceased three are reportedly from Andhra Pradesh, one from Nepal and one from Bagepalli nearby. The condition of one injured is said to be critical.

Two people have been held in connection with the incident. A case has been registered at Gudibande police station and an FSL team is at the spot.

Illegal quarrying and lack of safety measures at sites has been in spotlight in Karnataka ever since a blast killed six people in Shivamogga district late last month.

The role of politicians and bureaucracy in allowing such stone quarrying and crushing units to thrive has also been under scanner.

Initial details emerge

On February 7, the police, led by Superintendent of Police Mithun Kumar, had raided the quarry in the village, identified as Bhramaravasini M Sanders Ltd., and sealed it before confiscating the explosible, on charges of illegal activity.

But the crushers owned by three persons, including local owner G.S. Nagaraj, possessed more illegal explosives and wanted to conceal them or dispose them off in the forest area, it is alleged. It was during such an operation that the blast occurred.

As per the instructions given, the staff, including Abhi, who worked as accountant in the firm and has died in the incident, carried the explosives late in the night in a goods vehicle. The police are now initiated probe on who had given instructions.

Nagaraja and two of his business partners from Andhra Pradesh are absconding.

High level probe ordered

Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa has said that a high level probe is going on into the incident.

In a tweet, the Chief Minister said that stringent action would be initiated against the guilty after the completion of inquiry.

Leaders react

Health Minister K. Sudhakar, in-charge of the district, visited the spot and promised action against those responsible for the incident. Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai also visited the spot.

Murugesh Nirani, Minister for Mining and Geology, said that culprits will be brought to book. "We will take measures to ensure that only licence holders can carry out blasts and illegal activities are checked," he said.

Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president D.K. Shivakumar, meanwhile, said that it is the indifference and irresponsibility of the government that has led to such an incident recurring. "The government is busy sorting it's own internal troubles and has no time to ensure that crucial law enforcement issues are addressed," he said in a statement.

PM expresses pain over loss of lives

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed pain over loss of lives in the incident.

“Pained by the loss of lives due to a mishap at Chikkaballapur in Karnataka. Condolences to the bereaved families. Praying that the injured recover quickly,” Mr. Modi wrote on Twitter.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2021 6:21:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/many-feared-dead-in-a-quarry-blast-in-chikkaballapur-karnataka/article33909892.ece

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