India chemical factory fire kills at least eight, injures dozens

Police file culpable homicide charges, including negligence in handling toxic substances, against factory owners.

India’s National Disaster Response Force rescuers carry the dead body of a person after an explosion and fire at a chemical factory in Dombivli near Mumbai [Rajanish Kakade/AP Photo]Published On 24 May 202424 May 2024

An explosion and fire at a chemical factory in western India has killed at least eight people, and left some 60 others injured, according to officials and media reports.

Rescuers combed through piles of debris and wreckage on Friday searching for bodies after the incident a day earlier at the Amudan Chemical company in Maharashtra state’s Thane district.

Keep reading

list of 3 itemsend of list

An explosion in the factory’s boiler led to a fire that affected nearby factories and houses, administrative official Sachin Shejal told The Associated Press news agency.

Two bodies have been identified so far while others are burned beyond recognition, Shejal said.

“We have asked the family members of the victims to submit DNA samples that can help us identify the bodies,” he added.

Devendra Fadnavis, the deputy chief minister of Maharashtra, quoted by India’s NDTV on Thursday, said some people had been rescued and arrangements were made to treat the injured.

The sound of the blast was heard a kilometre away, NDTV reported.

The explosion was so powerful that it sent huge shockwaves through the area where the factory is located in the city of Dombivli, damaging adjacent factories and shattering glass windows in nearby houses, reportedly leaving a big crater at the spot.

The cause of the explosion, which sent a huge cloud of grey smoke over the area, is being investigated.

Police on Friday filed charges of culpable homicide, including negligence in handling toxic substances, against the owners of the factory, which produced food colouring and used highly reactive chemicals that can cause explosions.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, quoted by NDTV, pledged that the families of victims would receive compensation and that the state government would take care of the medical costs of the dozens of injured.

Fires are common across India due to poor safety standards and lax enforcement of regulations. Activists say builders often cut corners on safety to save costs and have accused civic authorities of negligence and apathy.

With India pushing to be a manufacturing hub, workers’ safety is becoming an increasingly pressing issue that the country needs to get to grips with, experts say.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies