At least six people were killed in a suspected gelatin explosion at a quarry in Karnataka’s Chikkaballapur district on Tuesday morning, reported The News Minute.
Health Minister and District in-charge K Sudhakar, who visited the site in Hirenagavalli, said that the quarry was storing gelatin sticks illegally and in an irregular manner, leading to the explosion. Two persons have been arrested in the case. “These are illegally held explosives,” he said. “This will be dealt with law, strict action will be taken.”
Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai has ordered an inquiry by the Crime Investigation Department into the blast, reported ANI.
A case in connection with Tuesday’s incident has been registered at Gudibande police station, reported The Hindu. A forensic team visited the spot. One person was injured in the blast.
On February 7, the police had stopped quarrying operations in Hirenagavalli after local residents complained against the use of gelatin sticks, reported PTI. However, the workers continued using them, after which another raid was conducted a few days ago and the contractor was warned not to use gelatin anymore.
During the early hours on Tuesday, the men at the quarry went to dispose of the explosives when they accidentally went off. The vehicle’s driver escaped but sustained severe injuries.
“They were holding a bag and asked me to drive the vehicle to the forest,” the driver said. “I remained seated in the vehicle but the door was open. They went to a secluded place and suddenly the blast occurred.”
Following the incident, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa said strict action would be taken against the culprits. “The death of six people near Hirenagavalli village, Chikkaballapur, due to a gelatin blast is shocking,” he tweeted. “District incharge minister and senior officials instructed to conduct a thorough probe and take stern action against the culprits.” In another tweet, the chief minister said a high-level inquiry was underway.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered condolences to the relatives of the deceased, his office said. “Pained by the loss of lives due to a mishap at Chikkaballapur in Karnataka,” he said. “Condolences to the bereaved families. Praying that the injured recover quickly.”
Minister for Mining and Geology Murugesh Nirani said that action would be taken against those responsible for the incident. “We will take measures to ensure that only licence holders can carry out blasts and illegal activities are checked,” he said.
Nirani also said the state government will provide all necessary help to the kin of the deceased and the injured persons. “It’s rather very unfortunate that the blast occurred in Chikkaballapur before the wounds of the Shivamogga blast have healed.”
Karnataka unit of the Congress criticised the state government over the blast. “Instead of waking up from slumber after the Shivamogga blast and putting an end to illegal quarrying and use of explosives, the government stood in support of such activities leading to another explosion caused by gelatin,” the party tweeted. “Just as Shivamogga, here too the BJP [Bhratiya Janata Party] people are involved. Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar is directly responsible for this incident.”
Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee President DK Shivakumar alleged that the incident occurred because of the indifference and irresponsibility of the state government. “The government is busy sorting its own internal troubles and has no time to ensure that crucial law enforcement issues are addressed,” he said.
The explosion came a month after eight workers were killed in a similar incident in Shivamogga district. The victims were transporting explosives used in mining when the explosion had occurred. The vehicle was badly mangled and bodies of the workers were dismembered beyond recognition.