Death toll in Dombivali chemical factory blast rises to 13

The police have registered a culpable homicide case against the owners and senior employees of the factory

Mumbai: The death toll in the chemical factory blast at Dombivali rose to 13 after the discovery of six more bodies from the factory site on Friday. The police have registered a culpable homicide case against the owners and senior employees of the factory.

A boiler exploded at the factory of Amudan Chemicals situated at the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) area, Dombivali on Thursday afternoon. There were two-three subsequent explosions due to chemicals stored in the factory. The impact of blasts was such that it shattered windows of nearby buildings and also damaged adjacent factories.

A police official informed that they have booked the owners of Amudan Chemicals — Malti Pradeep Mehta, Malay Pradeep Mehta — along with other senior officials of the company under the IPC section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and Explosive Substance Act. According to the police, inadequate precautions in chemical processing and storage led to the explosion.

The company had not taken precautions over mixing of chemicals, final products, and their storage knowing well that any lapses might lead to an explosion which could affect and damage the company and structures around it, says the FIR.

The Thane police's crime branch, which is now probing the case, apprehended the owners. Malti Mehta was detained from Nashik, the crime branch said in a release. Malay Mehta (38), was detained from Thane and the local Manpada police have taken him into their custody from the crime branch, it said.

Confirming 10 deaths, Kalyan Tehsildar Sachin Shejal said it could increase further as more bodies are suspected to be lying on the premises of the factory.

At least 64 people, including women, working in the Amudan Chemicals factory and adjacent factories were injured due to the explosion and are being treated at six different hospitals. The state government has announced that it will bear the hospital expenses of all injured people.

Siddhesh Kadam, chairman of the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, inspected the blast site on Friday. He confirmed that two people were still missing. “We are working to complete the rescue operation as soon as possible and dealing with the hazardous chemicals. Chief minister Eknath Shinde has given strict instructions to provide all necessary support for the ongoing rescue operations and to prepare a plan to swiftly relocate the hazardous chemical unit from here. After this visit, we will have a meeting with our officers to finalise the plan and then present it to the Chief Minister,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Ambadas Danve, Leader of the Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Council, criticised the lack of industrial safety measures in the area. “There has been no Industrial Safety Department here. If you look at this area, such a factory should not have been here near the residential area. A technical person should have been here because a normal worker or labourer cannot handle a reactor. The management of this factory is responsible for the blast. The industrial safety department has been ignorant towards this,” he said.

The Shiv Sena UBT leader further said that there are around 450 factories in the area which should be moved elsewhere. “This is not the first accident in this industrial area since 2016 this is the fifth or sixth such accident,” Danve said.

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