At least eight workers died on Thursday night in a dynamite blast at a railway crusher site in Karnataka’s Shivamogga district, ANI reported, quoting District Collector KB Shivakumar.
Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa ordered a high-level inquiry into the incident. “I wish to express my deepest condolences to the families of the deceased,” he tweeted. “The wounded are being treated and I wish them all a speedy recovery. A high-level investigation has been ordered and strict action against the guilty is certain.”
The massive explosion took place near a gravel and boulder crushing facility in Hunasodu village, according to PTI. The victims were reportedly transporting explosives used in mining when the explosion occurred. The vehicle was badly mangled and bodies of the workers were dismembered beyond recognition.
Meanwhile, the police and other officials began inspecting the site of the explosion, ANI reported. Shivamogga member of Parliament BY Raghavendra was also at the spot. The MP told the news agency that a bomb squad was arriving from Bengaluru to look into the incident.
Yediyurappa announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the families of those dead. “I will also go to the spot,” the chief minister told ANI.
Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai said the police had arrested the owner of the quarry and the dynamite supplier. “At the outset it seems lot of quantity of dynamite has exploded there and there’s been some negligence by the quarry owner and the operators,” he added.
The impact of the blast was so strong that it shattered window panes of surrounding houses. Witnesses told the PTI that the blast also left cracks on roads of the area.
Initially, the jolt was mistaken for an earthquake. But geologists ruled out recording tremors in any of the observatories. “There was no earthquake,” a police officer told PTI. “But an explosion did take place at Hunsur on the outskirts of Shivamogga under the Rural Police station limits.”
Another police officer said, “There has been a blast in a truck carrying gelatin...The vibrations were felt locally.”
Yediyurappa said that such incidents should not happen, and that instances of illegal mining in the state will be tackled, reported ANI. “We have already stopped illegal mining, we will stop all such minings,” he added, according to ANI. “Let investigation take place, let the report come, we will take action.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences. “Pained by the loss of lives in Shivamogga,” he wrote on Twitter. “Condolences to the bereaved families. Praying that the injured recover soon. The state government is providing all possible assistance to the affected.”
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said that the incident needed a thorough investigation. “The news of blast at stone mining quarry in Karnataka is tragic,” he tweeted. “Condolences to the families of the victims. Such incidents call for in-depth investigation so that similar tragedies can be avoided in the future.”