At least 11 people were killed in a major dynamite blast near Shivamogga city in central Karnataka late on Thursday. According to reports, a lorry carrying gelatines and a huge quantity of dynamites exploded near a stone quarry around 10:30 pm. Tremors were felt and a loud sound was heard across the hilly Shivamogga, parts of Chikmagalur and Uttara Kannada districts, triggering panic. Officials at the local Natural Disasters Monitoring Centre said the impact of the blast may have led to tremors as it happened at a shallow depth.
Initially the people, who were about to go to bed, thought that it was an earthquake and started rushing out of their homes. The 11 pm data from the local seismological observatories around the area, however, did not record any seismic activity or tremors (these are usually recorded at a depth of 15 to 20 kms below the earth’s surface).
After some time the district administration came to know that it was a huge blast of the explosives used for quarrying. Some claim that about 50 dynamites exploded one after the another, killing at least 15 people on the spot. The lorry that was carrying was destroyed completely.
Ashok Naik, Shivamogga Rural MLA, told mediapersons that he too had heard the sound and the tragic incident had taken place in his constituency.
“There is a thick smoke everywhere. Can’t see anything. At least 15 people have died. It could be more. I can’t confirm anything right now,” he said.
While pictures of bodies strewn around did emerge from the site as local first-responders shared them, police said, it would take time for a detailed probe and assessment.
The officials have rushed to the accident site. But fearing more blasts, they are moving cautiously, say the locals.
According to some sources, the quarrying was happening for the railway work. However, no clarity yet on what caused this huge blast.
Shivamogga happens to be the home town of Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa and he has been informed about the tragedy. Illegal quarrying is common in this region.
Condoling the deaths, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the state government is providing assistance to the affected. “Pained by the loss of lives in Shivamogga. Condolences to the bereaved families. Praying that the injured recover soon. The State Government is providing all possible assistance to the affected.” he tweeted.
(With inputs from Deepa Balakrishnan, DP Satish in Bengaluru)