Fire tragedy: One of the victims had joined firm 2 months ago

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Pune, Jun 7 (PTI) Mangal Akhade had joined SVS Aqua Technologies just two months ago to support her family and for a better future, but the fate had something else for her in store as she was among 18 workers who perished in a massive fire at the company's plant near here on Monday.I The air was thick with grief in areas surrounding the chemical company's fire-ravaged premises near Uravade village, around 40km from Pune city, as residents struggled to come to term with the loss of so many workers from the locality.

The deceased, mostly women, were residents of villages near the Pirangut MIDC area of Mulshi tehsil of Pune district, where SVS Aqua Technologies, which manufactures chlorine dioxide among other chemicals, is located.

Mangal Akhade, 24, had workedin the private firm for just two months, said her uncle.

'My niece used to work in the firm. I rushed to the firm after I heard about the fire incident. For last two months, she was working in the firm and she has two small children,' said Bhau Akhade, her uncle.

Her husband works on farms and the family is very poor, he said.

The local administration should give adequate compensation to the family members of the workers who died in the inferno, Bhau Akhade said.

Some locals rushed to the spot after the fire broke out and anticipating that workers may have been trapped inside, they immediately arranged two backhoe loaders (heavy equipment vehicles) and broke the walls of the firm, and arranged a water tanker to douse the flames.

'The intensity of the fire was so high that it was difficult to go near the building. However, our drivers on backhoe loaders went ahead and broke the walls so that the people could come out,' said a local resident.

Devendra Potphode, chief fire officer, PMRDA (Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority), Fire Services, said as per company officials, 37 workers were at the plant when the tragedy occurred.

'As soon as the fire broke out, several of them managed to escape and came out of the company's premises.

However, as per the firm, 17 workers were trapped inside,' he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Abhinav Deshmukh, Superintendent of Police, Pune district, said an accidental death case has been registered in connection with the incident. PTI SPK RSY RSY