A blast at a factory belonging to Nagamalli Fireworks at Vetrilai Oorani near Sivakasi on Saturday claimed the lives of five workers, including three women.
The victims have been identified as Poulraj (45) of Vetrilai Oorani, Vijaya (35) of Kalaingnar Colony in Thayilpatti, Murugeswari (21) of Vetrilai Oorani, Shanmugavel (40) of Mela Ottampatti and Kalarani (38) of Vetrilai Oorani.
Four other workers who sustained injuries in the accident were rushed to the Sivakasi Government Hospital, said District Collector of Virudhunagar, A. Sivagnanam.
The distress call was reportedly made around 11 a.m., following which fire tenders from Sivakasi and surrounding areas were rushed to the spot.
“Preliminary inquiries suggest that the firm’s Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) licence was issued from Chennai, and that the firm employed around 120 workers, which makes it a large-scale unit,” said a police official supervising the rescue operation.
Police sources said the private fireworks unit was engaged in the production of small crackers. At the time of the incident, its workers were on the job at as many as 10 of its 15 sheds. The unit belongs to Sakti Shanmugam of Sivakasi.
The workers were engaged in mixing chemicals, including aluminium and sulphur, in the shed where the blast occurred. The heat and the mishandling of the chemicals apparently triggered the blast. More than the fire that engulfed the shed in the wake of the blast, it was the impact of the explosion that led to the instant death of the five workers, the sources added.
The Vembakottai police have registered a case and the foreman of the fireworks unit, identified as Mahendran, has surrendered to the police.