Pune factory tragedy: 15 women out of 18 dead; President, PM condole deaths

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Image tweeted by @ANI
Image tweeted by @ANI

Pune : 18 workers, mostly women, at a Pune-based chemical factory died on Monday after massive fire caught up on Monday afternoon. According to the officials, one worker has sustained burn injuries.

The fire broke out at SVS Aqua Technologies, which manufactures chlorine dioxide among other chemicals and is located in the Pirangut MIDC area of Mulshi tehsil on the outskirts of Pune city.

“So far, 18 bodies have been recovered from the firm’s premises. We have stopped the search operation due to darkness and heat caused due to the blaze. The search operation will resume on Tuesday morning to find out if any worker is still missing,” India.com quoted Sandesh Shirke, sub-divisional magistrate (SDM), Mulshi division.

All the bodies, which were completely charred, were sent to the government-run Sassoon General Hospital for autopsy, Shirke said. The bodies were burnt to an unrecognizable extent and their identification will now be done only on the basis of DNA.

Fire brigade officials said the bodies were found in multiple groups with the victims clinging to each other in a desperate attempt to stay together and escape the inferno.

President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also expressed their grief over the incident.

“The loss of lives of workers, mostly women, in a fire accident at a factory in Pune is extremely unfortunate. My condolences to the families of the deceased. I pray for speedy recovery of the injured,” a statement from the President Office read.

PM Narendra Modi announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2-lakh each to the kin of the deceased. He also announced a financial assistance of Rs 50,000 to those injured. 

Devendra Potphode, Chief Fire Officer, PMRDA (Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority), Fire Services, said six to seven fire tenders were rushed to the chemical unit to douse the flames. Asked about the possible cause of the blaze, Potphode said as per the company officials, the fire started during packing of plastic materials in the premises. “Due to some spark at the (packaging) section, the fire broke out and as there was plastic around, it spread rapidly,” said Potphode.