A fire accident at a godown in the cracker town of Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu on Thursday afternoon led to the death of nine people, while dozens more were injured, said the local police. The death toll in the incident was expected to rise, since some of the injured were said to be in serious condition.
Local reports said the accident took place when the firecrackers were being transported in a lorry. The initial death toll was pegged at six, but it soon rose to eight. Then, one of the injured reportedly succumbed to their wounds. The deceased have been identified as Baskar, Sornakumari, Devi, Kamarchi, Pushphalakshmi, Valarmathi, Janakiraman, Ganeshan and Shanmugaraj.
At least 35 fire tenders were rushed to the spot, and managed to bring the blaze under control in some time. According to reports, 25 people have been rescued from the blaze. Visuals from the spot showed firecrackers going off as the blaze raged on. People and vehicles were seen trying to avoid the crackers.
The continous explosion of the crackers reportedly made the job of the firefighters a little more difficult, as they ran the risk of being injured from them.
At least 20 vehicles parked near the godown have been damaged by the blast. A hospital near the spot of the incident has also borne some of the brunt of the accident, according to local reports.
Here is a video from the spot of the incident:
A history of such accidents
Sivakasi at this time of year is a hotbed of activity, given that a lion's share of the firecrackers that the country will burn on Diwali is manufactured here. It has been the scene of similar accidents with much more casualties in the run-up to Dwali almost every year without fail.
Probably the worst of these accidents in recent times was when 38 people were killed and dozens more injured in blasts that rocked Sivakasi on September 5, 2012. Since then, several more lives have been lost over the years in similar incidents.