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Boiler clue to Surat blast

Ahmedabad, Aug. 4: The toll in yesterday’s “accidental” powerful explosion in a residential building in Surat has gone up to 43.

Local authorities have ruled out the “cylinder blast theory” after the Forensic Science Laboratory submitted its preliminary report.

It said the explosion resulted from a boiler being heated during illegal industrial activity on the ground floor of the building.

The laboratory’s preliminary report submitted to Surat police commissioner V.K. Gupta suggested that the blast was triggered by “excessive heating of some chemical or metal which created pressure, causing the explosion and bringing down the structure of the building”.

The illegal addition of two floors had weakened the structure of the now-flattened building in the Varachha area of the city’s diamond hub.

As the wall of this building and the adjoining ones were common, those two buildings also collapsed.

Varachha police have registered a case of negligence against the owner who lived elsewhere and is absconding but is likely to be arrested once the laboratory submits its final report in a few days.

The 43 labourers killed in the explosion were employed by the owner of the building who was running the industrial unit on the premises in violation of building norms.

The rescue operations were completed three hours before chief minister Narendra Modi visited the site around 9 am.

The Gujarat chief minister praised the technical, engineering and fire brigade staff of the Surat Municipal Corporation for saving 40 people trapped under the debris.

The chief minister also visited the injured at the corporation-run Maskati hospital.

Modi has asked the civic authorities to conduct a comprehensive survey in the city to find out the exact number of dwelling units where industrial activities are carried out on residential premises.

The chief minister said he had received complaints that about 3,000 such units were operating in residential area of the city, mostly in Varachha.

Civic authorities later held a meeting to work out an action plan to ensure that such incidents do not recur in Surat.

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