Two injured in explosion at cracker tube-making unit

Four feared trapped under concrete debris, rescue efforts under way

Two workers sustained burn injuries and four others are feared trapped under the debris of a concrete building that collapsed following an explosion of stocked crackers at a paper tube manufacturing unit here on Monday evening.

“After a prolonged struggle to put out the blaze, three earthmovers have been deployed to remove the debris,” said Deputy Inspector General of Police (Madurai Range) N. Kamini, who was supervising the search and rescue operation at the spot.

The police said the explosion was heard at the unit located at Nehruji Nagar under Sivakasi Town police station limits at around 3.30 p.m. The entire concrete building, comprising basement, ground floor and the first floor, came crashing down in the impact of the explosion.

Police and Fire and Rescue Services personnel rescued two workers – G. Velmurugan, 38, and M. Manoj Kumar, 23. They have been admitted to Sivakasi Government Hospital with 60 per cent and 30 per cent burns respectively.

“Initial information reveals that the unit was supplying paper tubes, meant for aerial crackers, to cracker units. They had a huge stock of crackers, which they had got from cracker units to which they had been supplying tubes. They had also sold crackers (during Deepavali),” the DIG said.

The police suspect that an electric short-circuit while operating the machinery meant for making paper tubes could have triggered the fire that led to the explosion.

Over 35 firemen, led by Virudhunagar District Fire Officer K. Ganesan, rushed to the spot. Fire tenders from Sivakasi, Srivilliputtur and emergency rescue tender from Virudhunagar were deployed to put out the fire that continued even after sunset.

The unit was run by R. Panchavarnam, 40, and her husband Ramanathan. Along with the couple, two women workers, Karthikeswarai and Hameeda, were said to be working in the building. With all the four missing, the police suspected that they could have been trapped under the debris.

The police are yet to ascertain whether crackers from outside had been stocked or illegal manufacturing of crackers was going on in the unit.

Senior police officials, including Superintendent of Police M. Manohar, were overseeing the rescue operation.

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