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Fire at explosives factory could have killed more than 18 in South India

02 December 2016

Reports on December 2 in local media said at least 18 people were dead after a fire and blast at an explosives factory near Tiruchirappalli in Tamil Nadu the previous day. The fire started in one of four manufacturing units at the factory and caused a huge explosion, which could be heard 5km from the factory and created panic in the surrounding area. 

Stock image
Stock image

Some 200 workers were working at the 160-acre factory site when the incident occurred. Reports from local sources claimed up to 15 had been injured in the incident.

"An explosion was heard at Vetrivel Explosives near Tiruchirappalli in the morning. The ground and first floors have collapsed," said G. Sathyanarayanan, deputy director-in-charge of Fire and Rescue services (central region), Tamil Nadu.

Heavy rain hampered rescue operations, police said. The licenced plant had been operational for more than 25 years.

According to The Times of India, 200kg of pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN) went off in PETN Unit-2, reducing an eight-metre high building to debris. The intensity of the blast left a 20ft-deep crater at the site.

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