Several people were reported dead after a massive fire broke out at a firecracker factory in Virudhunagar in Tamil Nadu on Friday. The private factory is located in Achangulam area near Sathur.
Sixteen deaths have been reported so far, with more than 36 injured. The death toll is expected to increase since many of the injured, admitted to the Sivakasi government hospital, are critical.
The incident happened while some chemicals were being mixed to produce fireworks, police said. Four cracker-making sheds were destroyed.
Ten firefighting units from various locations were rushed to the spot to douse the fire.
The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) in a tweet expressed grief and said authorities are working to assist those affected by the fire.
Fire at a firecracker factory in Virudhunagar, Tamil Nadu is saddening. In this hour of grief, my thoughts are with the bereaved families. I hope those injured recover soon. Authorities are working on the ground to assist those affected: PM @narendramodi— PMO India (@PMOIndia) February 12, 2021
An ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each has been approved from the PMNRF for the families of the victims and Rs 50,000 each for those seriously injured, the PMO said in another tweet. Chief Minister K Palaniswami has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 3 lakh each to the kin of the deceased and Rs 1 lakh each for those critically injured.
"I have instructed the district authorities and medical experts to give the best treatment to the injured and have asked the local administration to ensure families of deceased and injured are informed and necessary arrangements made," said Palaniswami. "I have also asked district authorities to inspect such industries on regular basis."
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also expressed condolences to the victims of the fire, urging the state government to provide immediate rescue, support and relief.
(With inputs from agencies)