Sivakasi (TN), Sept 6: The death toll at the Om Shakthi fireworks factory in Sivakasi has been confirmed to 38 and six arrests have been made in the case. Police are on the lookout for owner Murugesan, along with seven others who are on the run. The lease owner has, however, been arrested. Latest reports on the factory reveal that the license of the factory was temporarily suspended a day before the deadly fire broke out in the factory premises.
The license of one of the biggest firecracker factories in Sivakasi was suspended for failing to comply with safety norms. Sources claim that the owner of the factory Murugesan is also an AIADMK counsellor and employs close to 300 people.
Sivakasi is the hub of fireworks manufacturing in the country, accounting to 90 per cent of the country's fireworks production. It is yet to be known on the exact reason for the fire, with police claiming that 40 of the 48 sheds storing chemicals and firecrackers were completely gutted in fire. Najmal Hoda, SP of Virudanagar has been quoted as saying, "These are times ahead of Deepavali. So activities go on at a breakneck speed in cracker units."
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has ordered a probe into the mishap and has told five ministers to rush to the spot to oversee relief and rescue works. Jayalalithaa has also announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 2 lakh each to the next of kin of those dead, Rs 25,000 to the seriously injured and Rs 10,000 to those who have sustained minor injuries.
There are reports that the death toll could increase due to the gravity of injuries and some of the injured are in critical condition.