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9 killed in fireworks unit blast near Kumbakonam

9 killed in fireworks unit blast near Kumbakonam

Chennai: Nine people died, four were injured and equipment worth crores of rupees was damaged in two fires in Tamil Nadu on Friday.

Nine people lost their lives and four were hurt in a blast at the Dhanalakshmi Fireworks in Olukacheri village near Kumbakonam of Thanjavur district, around 340 km from here.

In another incident, a fire damaged equipment at a government printing press.

"The accident occurred in the afternoon around 2.30 today (Friday). Five people died on the spot and four others succumbed on the way to a hospital. Four people were admitted to the hospital and are said to be out of danger," N. Subbaian, collector, Thanjavur district, told IANS over phone.

He said the accident occurred in a licensed fire cracker unit but how it happened is not known.

According to Subbaian, the fire was doused after the accident. Of the nine dead, three were women.

Sivakasi in Virudhunagar district, around 510 km from here, is one of the oldest and biggest firecracker manufacturing hubs in India. Nearly 90 percent of the country's fireworks, along with 80 percent of safety matches, are made in Sivakasi.

Low rainfall and dry climate are conductive for this industry in Sivakasi where the annual turnover is over Rs.2,000 crore.

However, there are some fire cracker units located in other parts of the state in a small way.

According to industry officials, nearly 250 people have lost their lives over the past 13 years due to accidents in fire cracker units.

Last year, September saw over 50 people dying in Sivakasi in a blast at Om Shakti Fireworks.

In the early hours of Friday, a fire broke out in the Tamil Nadu government printing press here, damaging the heritage building housing the press while printing equipment worth several crore of rupees were damaged.

"The fire was noticed around 2 a.m. today (Friday). Immediately, fire tenders were rushed to the spot. As it is a printing press storing papers, the fire spread fast, damaging around 15,000 sq.ft building, equipment and the stock," a senior fire service official, preferring anonymity, told IANS.

"It is a heritage building built during the British period. Such buildings should have fire safety equipment like smoke detectors, water sprinklers," he added.

He said the building is crumbling inside due to intense heat and fire service personnel are taking care by not hitting their water jets on the walls.

According to him, nobody was injured in the fire.

Ten fire tenders and several water tankers were rushed to douse the raging fire which was brought under control.

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