Concern over perils of handling explosives in makeshift units

Photo for representation: A worker prepares gunpowder to make firecrackers at a factory.   | Photo Credit: REUTERS

The destruction of a firecracker- manufacturing unit at Palode in a lightning-triggered explosion on Wednesday, in which two were killed, has raised concerns over the perils associated with handling inflammable raw materials in makeshift facilities. The weather condition that prevails in the district poses a graver threat for these units, authorities fear.

Lightning had struck the open shed where Sylus, 67, of Meenmutty, near Nanniyode, operated a firecracker-manufacturing unit on a rubber plantation at Choodal around 3.30 p.m. on Vishu Day on Wednesday. One of his workers, Susheela, 58, of Choodal, died on the spot, while Sylus who sustained high-degree burns died at the Government Medical College Hospital here around 10.30 p.m.

Susheela’s husband Sukumaran had a miraculous escape after he ran away from the shed when the lightning struck. The casualty would have been much higher had the other six workers turned up for work on the fateful day. They could not report for work owing to the heavy downpour that lashed the region.

Deputy Collector (Disaster Management) G.K. Suresh Kumar said the incident was being viewed as a ‘natural calamity’ on the basis of a preliminary assessment. The mishap was caused by a premature initiation of explosives by lightning. While no violations had come to light yet, a probe was on to ascertain whether explosives beyond the permissible limit were stored.

Slyus possessed a valid licence for manufacturing firecrackers until March 31, 2023, according to Nedumangad tahsildar Suresh Babu.

Many such units operated in the Nedumangad taluk, especially in hilly areas such as Palode and Pacha. While four others also were licensed, applications submitted by six units awaited approval from the Kerala Police, Kerala Fire and Rescue Services and the Revenue Department.

However, sources claimed that some unlicensed enterprises too were engaged in manufacturing firecrackers for commercial use. Nanniyode is widely regarded as a firecracker manufacturing hub in the district.

Pointing out that many of these units functioned from open sheds where the explosives lay exposed, Mr. Babu said such manufacturers would be advised to adopt precautions under the present weather conditions to prevent the explosives from going off.

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Printable version | May 8, 2021 2:05:28 AM |

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