At least 10 people were killed in a major dynamite blast near Shivamogga in central Karnataka late on Thursday when a lorry carrying gelatines and a huge quantity of dynamites exploded near a stone quarry around 10:30 pm.
After the residents heard "mysterious explosion", theories of earthquake and terror activity in the area started doing rounds. The locals of Shivamogga panicked as no official update about the incident was provided.
After the explosion jolted Shivamogga town, a Twitter user posted, "When I called the police helpline, the lady there said it's due to granite blast at Bommankatte. But the news channel is showing it as an earthquake."
Apart from several Tweets and conversations on other social media platforms, locals were also seen spreading rumours about terrorist activities in the area. Even the bomb disposal squad was on its way to the blast site in Shivamogga for further probe.
Screenshot of one such Whatsapp forward:
This incident took place in Abbalagere village located along the Shivamogga-Hanagal state highway, which passes through Savalunga and Shikaripura. The sound and vibration were felt in a 15-20 radius from Shimoga to Bhadrawati.
Shikaripura, 290 km from Bengaluru, is the home constituency of Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa. According to the police, no one was able to reach the site of the explosion. The incident took place in a stone crushing unit, where generally at least 50 boxes of mining explosive material are stored.
In a statement, Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai said, "At the outset, it seems a lot of quantity of dynamite has exploded there & there's been some negligence by the quarry owner & the operators. Police have already arrested the quarry owner & the dynamite supplier. The probe is on."
Meanwhile, KSNDC commissioner, Manoj Rajan also rejected theories doing rounds that "mysterious" sound could be the result of a minor earthquake or any kind of terror activity.
The Police has now arrest quarry owner Sudhakar and land owner's son Avinash Kulkarni in connection with dynamites blast incident. Thus officially proving that the mysterious explosion was not a terrorist attack or earthquake.
Murugesh Rudrappa Nirani, who became the mining minister a day ago, said that labourers from Bihar were among the six killed. The exact death toll is yet not clear. While several ministers have said six, nine more bodies are said to have been recovered.
"It is suspected that gelatin sticks in a truck near the stone quarry exploded, killing the labourers from Bihar," Nirani tweeted.
Anguished by the incident Prime Minister Narendra Modi also said, "Pained by the loss of lives in Shivamogga. Condolences to the bereaved families. Praying that the injured recover soon. State Govt is providing all possible assistance to the affected."
The impact of the Shivamogga blast
The impact of the blast was such that a huge crater of 5 km was created and due to the subsequent heat, the rescue operations could not be started, a police officer reportedly said.
Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNMDC) told that a lorry carrying mining explosive material exploded due to which, a loud sound along with earthquake-like vibrations was experienced across Shivamogga district in Karnataka at around 10.20 p.m.
The police said that they have not been able to confirm whether lorry was carrying explosive material yet as none of the rescue operation team is able to reach a place where the blast has occurred.
"Heat is so much that nobody is able to go there and the smell of explosive material that has spread to about nearly 8-10 km has not subsided. Once the heat and smell reduce, the rescue teams can enter there. We have sealed the entire area and keeping a close watch on it," a police officer said.