Toll in Sivakasi firecracker shop blaze mounts to 7

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Toll in Sivakasi firecracker shop blaze mounts to 7
© Provided by Hindustan Times The firecracker shop has been having a license to sell fireworks for the past 10 years and it had also renewed the license this year. (AFP/Representative use)

The death toll in Tuesday’s fire accident at a firecracker shop in Tamil Nadu’s Kallakurichi district rose to seven on Wednesday, with recovery of the body of an 11-year-old boy. At least 10 people were injured in the accident.

“We received the body of an 11-year-old boy around 3pm today (Wednesday). He was missing since yesterday (Tuesday). The boy happens to be the shopkeeper’s younger brother’s son. So that takes the toll to seven,” said Ziaul Haque, superintendent of police, Kallakurichi. The shopkeeper sustained burn injures and undergoing treatment at a hospital. Police are yet to take his statement.

A video from the spot began circulating on the social media that shows a massive explosion turning the night sky into bright orange. The fire can be seen engulfing aerially with people shouting and sound of firecrackers bursting can be heard.

Officials said the fire started at around 6.30 pm on Tuesday and it took 11.30 pm for big fires to be put out completely. “There was smouldering up to 4 am,” Haque said. “Three fire engines were continuously throwing water.”

The accident happened in Sankarapuram in the district and the injured people, two of them are critical, are being treated at a government hospital in Kallakurichi.

The firecracker shop has been having a license to sell fireworks for the past 10 years and it had also renewed the license this year. The shopkeeper stocked up the firecrackers on the first floor and sold them from the ground floor. He also sold grocery items from here which was his alternative business firecrackers were not in business.

The fire broke out from here and quickly spread to an adjacent building where a mobile shop was functioning and the owner of this store has died. Opposite the building, two bystanders, who came to a tea stall, are also part of the casualties. The samples from the debris and shop have been sent for scientific analyses to ascertain the cause of the fire.

As of now authorities suspect that an electric short circuit could have caused the fire which spread quickly due to firecrackers being stocked one up the other.

Public works minister EV Velu visited those being treated in the hospital and later told reporters that all district authorities have been instructed to ensure safety protocols in sale of firecrackers. “The government is being careful that such accidents shouldn’t occur again,” the minister said.

Chief minister MK Stalin offered a compensation of 5 lakh each for the victims and 1 lakh each for those in intensive care. “I was deeply saddened,” Stalin said in a tweet on Tuesday night. “I have ordered for the compensation to be sent from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.”

With a few weeks to go for Diwali, various shops have begun stocking up to sell firecrackers that are predominantly transported from Virudhunagar district’s Sivakasi – the manufacturing hub for firecrackers. This year fire accidents have been reported in Virudhunagar in licensed and illegal firecracker making units where mishaps while mixing chemicals have led to an explosion.

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