Two killed in blast at factory

Staff Reporter

Company suspects sabotage

Memo issued to firm to stop all work

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Two persons were killed in an explosion at Ashapura Mine Chem Limited, a clay factory, at Menankulam at the KINFRA International Apparel Park here on Sunday.

The deceased were identified as Johnny Varghese, 32, Production Engineer, and a resident of Olimolath, Pancode, Kochi and a contract worker, Mittu Kumar, hailing from Uttar Pradesh.

The accident occurred around 1 p.m. when maintenance work was on at powder dryer-I as part of commencing the trial run in the factory that was badly damaged in an attack by a group of people on November 16. The deceased were reportedly standing beneath the dryer, checking the fan and utility lines, when the blast occurred, company officials said. According to the rural police, the two were killed on the spot and their faces, disfigured. Johnny had joined the company six months ago. Mittu Kumar was a contract worker of Fitwell, a Mumbai-based company that supplies equipment. The unit was switched off immediately. At the time of the blast, there were 20 employees inside the factory. The Safety Officer of the factory was on leave, company officials said.

he Fire and Rescue Services personnel and the police rushed to the spot. The bodies were shifted to the mortuary of the Medical College Hospital here. Sub-Collector K. Biju issued a stop memo, asking the company to wind up all work till an inquiry is conducted.

The powder dryer got mangled, its joints were ripped off and steel pipes got twisted in the blast. Smoke could be seen billowing from the powder dryer even at 4 p.m.

Company’s version

“The suction side of the fan exploded. Negative pressure is created here and the chance of an explosion of this magnitude can be ruled out. An explosion needs positive pressure. We suspect that the blast happened due to an external factor,” according to General Manager, Operations, Satheesh Kumar.

The bodies of the deceased will be handed over to relatives after post-mortem examination on Monday. The Kazhakuttom police have registered a case. Sub-Inspector, Kazhakuttom, C. S. Vinod, has commenced investigation. Chief Executive Officer of the company, Gita Nerukar, told The Hindu over telephone from Mumbai that the company suspects sabotage.

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