Maharashtra chemical factory explosion leaves six dead

Sagar Rajput
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The police said the incident took place around 7 pm when the owner of the plant, Natubhai Patel, and 11 labourers, were inside. (Express photo/Deepak Joshi)

(Also written by Niraj Raut)

SIX LABOURERS were killed and at least 10 injured after a huge explosion took place at a chemical plant in Bhoisar's Tarapur Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation area — 136 km west of Mumbai. The explosion destroyed a part of the plant as well as an adjacent building, which was under construction. At the time of going to press, rescue operations were underway to locate the workers trapped under the rubble.

The police said the incident took place around 7 pm when the owner of the plant, Natubhai Patel, and 11 labourers, were inside. The deceased have been identified as Ansari Elias, Nishu Singh, Madhuri Singh, Golu Yadav, Rajmatidevi Yadav and Mohan Ingale. At least five fire engines and 10 ambulances were rushed to the spot following the explosion.

Sources said the explosion took place when a trial run of a chemical production was being conducted. Hydrogen used during the trial could have led to the expolsion. Following the incident, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each for the families of the deceased.

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Atleast 10 people were injured in the explosion. (Express photo/Deepak Joshi)

The police said that Patel had bought the plant, earlier known as Tara Nitrate, two years ago. The new management, registered under the name ANK Pharma Private Limited, had only on January 2 received premission to operate from the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, the police have learnt. The plant was yet to commence commercial operations and was undertaking trial runs.

"Patel had bought the plant and renovated it. We are checking whether he had adequate permission from the pollution control board. However, we have been told that the company had received the permission earlier this month," said an officer.

The police, however, added that the owner did not have requisite permission from the Directorate of Industrial Security and Health (DISH). "A major chunk of the plant collapsed. Another building was being constructed on the premises. That too suffered extensive damage and people were trapped under both the structures," the officer said.

The police said the intensity of the blast was so huge that it was heard within a 25-km radius, and window panes of some houses in the surrounding area shattered. The factories that stood next to the plant also suffered damages. Following the explosion, SP Gaurav Singh and Palghar Collector Kailas Shinde rushed to the spot. Both police and DISH have started a probe into the explosion.

"For now, we are registering a case of accidental death report. Later, on the basis of our findings, we shall decide on the future course of action," said Singh, adding that the DISH report would also be considered.

"Rescue operations are still on. We will conduct a detailed inquiry," the collector said.