The death toll due to an explosion at a fireworks factory near Tamil Nadu's Sattur has reached 19, while more than 30 others are injured due to the impact of the explosion. The blast occurred on Friday when some chemicals were being mixed to produce fireworks at the unit in Acchankulam village, officials said, adding the injured had been hospitalised.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami, Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi and DMK President MK Stalin were among those who condoled the deaths.
Modi and Palaniswami have also announced an ex-gratia of Rs two lakh each and three lakh each to the kin of the deceased from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund and the Chief Minister's Public Relief Fund respectively.
The factory building was damaged badly under the impact of the explosion and many suffered burns.
Palaniswami said he has ordered a probe into the incident while assuring due legal action.
Several fire fighting units were deployed to douse the fire and take up the rescue operations.
Earlier, TV visuals showed relatives of the victims wailing near the mishap site while the injured were rushed to hospitals in ambulances.
Such explosions while mixing chemicals in cracker manufacturing units have been reported in the past in Virudhunagar district, especially places in and around Sivakasi and Sattur, the national hub of fireworks.
In March last year, six people were killed and four injured in the factory at Sippiparai near Sattur when the fire broke out due to friction when chemicals were being mixed for making the fireworks.
A similar blast at a fireworks factory in neighbouring Madurai district in October last year had claimed the lives of seven women workers.
Meanwhile, the chief minister said he has directed expediting the relief work and asked the district collector Virudhunagar to console the families of the victims in person.
The collectors concerned should conduct periodic checks at such units to ensure workers' safety, he said, adding the factories should follow due to safety measures in view of the coming summer season, indicating high temperatures then could lead to similar mishaps.