Death toll in Thane chemical factory blast rises to 9

Thane: Firefighters try to extinguish a fire that broke out due to a boiler blast in a chemicals factory, at Dombivli, in Thane district, Thursday, May 23, 2024. At least six workers suffered injuries, according to officials. (PTI Photo)(PTI05_23_2024_000171B)

Thane: The death toll in the chemical factory blast in Maharashtra's Thane district rose to nine with the discovery of one more body from the accident site, officials said on Friday. Police have registered a case of culpable homicide against the owners of the unit, Amudan Chemicals, located in Phase 2 of Dombivli MIDC.

Kalyan Tehsildar Sachin Shejal said the death toll has risen to nine and it might go up as they suspect more bodies are lying on the premises of the devastated factory. The debris is being cleared, said the official.

He said 64 persons, including many women from the factories in the vicinity, were injured and are being treated in at least six different hospitals. AIMS hospital in Dombivli is treating two dozen patients, he said.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said companies involved in high-risk manufacturing processes must change their production process if they want to continue in their current places. "Those who do not want to make such changes should migrate to the land acquired by the government outside the city," he said.

A boiler exploded at the factory on Thursday afternoon and the impact of the blast and the resultant blaze affected adjacent factories and houses. The impact of the blast was felt in a 3-km radius, leading Marathi newspaper Lokmat reported.

Shuttters of closed shops were damaged in the impact and the windows a children's hospital, 1 km away from the blast site, were broken, local news reports said.

Ten fire engines were pressed into service to control the blaze and the firefighting went past 11 pm on Thursday. Now, cooling operations are underway, said Kailas Nikam of the Disaster Management Cell of Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC). The area is filled with the acrid smell of burnt chemicals, he said.

The Manpada police in Dombivli have registered a case against the factory owners under Indian Penal Code section 304A (culpable homicide) and sections concerning explosive substances and hazardous chemicals.

Tehsildar Shejal said that the bodies of the deceased have been sent to government hospitals for post-mortem. The bodies were charred and beyond recognition, he said.

A senior official from the Thane police commissionerate said several police teams have been formed to probe the case. Those government officials responsible for granting permissions and carrying out inspections will be probed, he said.

The affected chemical factory produced food colours and uses peroxides that are highly reactive and unstable chemicals that can cause violent explosions under certain conditions, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) said on Thursday.
(With inputs from PTI)

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