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13 dead in fire at chemical plant in Dhule

In action: Firefghters trying to douse the fire at a chemical factory near Dhule on Saturday. It took around two-and-a-half hours to bring the fire under control

In action: Firefghters trying to douse the fire at a chemical factory near Dhule on Saturday. It took around two-and-a-half hours to bring the fire under control   | Photo Credit: Vijay Dongre

The fire was followed by massive explosions; CM announces ₹5 lakh to the kin of deceased

At least 13 people were killed and 72 others injured in a fire at a chemicals factory in Dhule on Saturday.

According to the police, the fire started at about 9.30 a.m. in a factory belonging to Chemisynth near Waghadi village in Shirpur, Dhule. The spot is about a kilometre away from the Ankleshwar road, officials said.

“The factory manufactures precursors to chemicals that are used in the pharmaceutical fields and then provides the precursors to various pharma companies in the State,” said Inspector Shivaji Budhwant of the Shirpur City police station. “The fire was followed by several massive explosions. While the fire itself took around two-and-a-half hours to bring under control, the subsequent search and rescue operation took the better part of the day,” he added.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and offered assistance. “Anguished to learn about the loss of lives due to explosion at a chemical factory in Dhule, Maharashtra. Have spoken to Maharastra CM, state govt is doing everything possible to assist the people in need. My condolences with the bereaved families. May injured recover soon,” Mr Shah tweeted.

In a statement, Mr. Fadnavis said he had spoken to the district’s guardian minister, Collector, Superintendent of Police and asked them to rush to the spot.

“State Disaster teams (SDRF) have reached too and now fire is under control. We have announced ₹5 lakh to the kin of deceased. I express grief over loss of lives in explosion at chemical factory near Shirpur,” he said in the statement.

Fire Brigade teams were rushed to the spot from Dhule, Nashik and Nandurbar, while three teams of the State Disaster Response Force assisted in the operation. Residents of the Waghadi village also helped with the rescue efforts, while the city and traffic police blocked vehicular traffic on the Ankleshwar road when the fire was at its peak.

“We kept releasing traffic in small batches whenever we felt that it was safe to do so. No major traffic backlog was reported,” Mr. Budhwant said.

While people were being pulled out of the rubble throughout the evening, the number of fatalities had touched 13 by Saturday night while 72 others were admitted to government hospitals in Dhule and Shirpur. Officers said that there were about 100 employees in the factory when the fire started, and all of them had been accounted for.

“The deceased have suffered a variety of injuries,” said Mr. Budhwant. “While some of them were caught in the blaze and died due to burns, others died of suffocation while some died after being caught under portions of the factory that collapsed due to the explosions. We have called off the operation for the night and will conduct another sweep on Sunday morning,” he added.

While some firefighting equipment was found at the factory, the police official said an inquiry had been initiated into the fire safety precautions put in place by the management, especially considering the fact that chemicals of a combustible nature were manufactured and handled in the premises. An offence of causing death due to negligence under the IPC is likely to be registered against the management, officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 12:05:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/13-dead-in-fire-at-chemical-plant-in-dhule/article29311349.ece

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