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Sivakasi fire: Jaya orders magisterial probe, burns ward gets an upgrade

Sivakasi (TN), Sep 6 (PTI): Seven persons were arrested on Thursday in connection with the fire at a cracker manufacturing unit near here that claimed 39 lives even as police are on the lookout for the owner of the factory which allegedly violated several safety norms.

Four persons who had taken the Omshakthi fireworks factory complex where the fire broke out on lease, its foreman and two others entrusted with managing the unit had been arrested, SP Najmal Hoda told reporters here.

Ten teams had been formed to nab the factory owner Murugesan, who fled the spot after the devastating fire on Wednesday.

”It is absolutely illegal.. what he has done (giving the factory on lease), is absolutely wrong,” the SP said, adding, cases had been registered against the lease holders and owner under various sections of IPC and Explosives Act.

According to the SP, the factory had committed several violations such as safety norms, overcrowding, overstocking and wrong mixing of chemicals.

Initial examination by forensic experts revealed that mixing of chemical had been done in “unscientific proportions”. Besides, rubber sheets had not been provided at the sheds where the crackers were manufactured.

The area around the factory, spread over five acres, had been cordoned off as police feared that more unexploded crackers could burst due to extreme heat conditions.

Fire service personnel were constantly dousing the area, so that earth-movers could be used to clear the debris.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa ordered a magisterial probe into the fire.,

Jayalalithaa, who chaired a meeting of senior ministers to chalk out measures to prevent such mishaps in future, said the District Revenue Officer would probe the cause of the incident and functioning of the Om Shakti Fireworks factory, whose registration was cancelled a day before the incident.

A sum of Rs 4.5 crore has been earmarked for enhancing the facilities at burns ward in Sivakasi Government hospital and bring it under the Madurai Medical College Hospital.

She also directed the Virudhunagar District Collector to survey the fireworks' units in the district to avoid recurrence of such mishaps.

Jayalalithaa on Wednesday announced a cash relief of Rs two lakh each to the next of kin of those killed in the incident.