Four blasts from a chemical factory shook Dombivli yesterday afternoon, killing 5 and injuring 129. The toll rose to 6 on Friday
Mahesh Patel will never forget the sight he witnessed while making tea yesterday. The Dombivli resident saw the window grills of his home bend, and mistook the sight for a bomb blast, before realising that it happened because of multiple explosions that occurred at a chemical factory in the suburb's MIDC Phase II area.
Around 15 fire engines and 10 water tankers were pressed into service at the spot. Pics/Satej Shinde
At 11.45 am, nearly four blasts shook the area. They killed five and injured 129, of which 9 are seriously injured. Sixty-nine have been admitted in the hospital, while the rest are taking first aid. The explosions also brought almost 1,000 residents on the streets as their homes were badly affected by the impact.
According to senior police officials, the blasts were a result of a chemical reaction gone wrong.
The incident occurred in the chemical factory of Probace Enterprises and later spread to another factory as well.
An intensive search of the debris was carried out to find the people trapped inside. Till the time of going to press, Suresh Shinde, Chief Fire Officer of Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation said three people were still missing and the search was on for them.
Around 15 fire engines and 10 water tankers were at the spot. Shinde said, “The fire was doused at 3 pm. Our officials were at the spot till the evening as the fire kept rising from time to time. We are still trying to control the fire.”
The blast was so huge that its impact was felt even in a radius of two and half kilometers from the site of origin. Some residents said they felt as if an earthquake was coming on, and rushed outside their homes.
Patel, a resident of Puspam Villa, which is 50-meters from the blast site, said, “I was preparing tea and all of a sudden, I heard a huge blast. The window grills in front of me were bent and the plasters came down from the ceiling. At first, I thought it was a bomb blast and we all started leaving the building. Later on, we learnt about the blast [at the factory].”
Jt Commissioner says
Ashutosh Dhumbre, joint commissioner of police, Thane, said, “We have registered a case against the owners of Probace Enterprises for causing death due to negligence and other different sections of the Indian Penal Code. It has been registered on a primary basis and we will further add the names of the supervisor and others who were negligent as well.”
According to locals, nearly 100 buildings with almost 1,000 residents and many commercial outlets were affected because of the blast.
The residents are staying in open spaces close to their homes, and various organisations are offering them food. Meanwhile, cops say all the injured and deceased were moved to ICON, AIMS, Shivam, Neptune, and Shashtri Nagar hospitals. The dead bodies were then shifted to Rukmini Bai hospital in Kalyan.
Factory owners missing
Nandan Wakhatkar (32), Sumit Wakhatkar (30) and Snehal Wakhatkar (28) who are the owners of the Probace Enterprises were missing till the time of going to the press.
Shinde said, “The three people are the owner of the firm and are missing. We found that they were present in the chemical factory during the time of the incident. We suspect they would be under the debris and search operation is on as their relatives claimed they were not found in the hospitals.”
He added, “In the evening, we received information that they are in the hospital, but they are yet to be confirmed by identification.”
MPCB: Not under our purview
A senior official from MPCB said, “We cannot comment much into the issue as this matter is related to Directorate of Industrial Safety and Health (DISH). The explosion had taken place in the chemical factory located at Dombivali MIDC, due to some chemical reaction. The subject comes under the purview of DISH as they will do panchanama and are investigation into the issue.”
MIDC: Helped control situation
RV Sonje, Chief Engineer, MIDC Dombivali said, “The checking of various permissions and inspections comes under the purview of DISH and they are investigating the issue. We have a fire station at Dombivali MIDC and immediately after the incident, we helped control the situation in the best possible way.”
DISH: Will inspect other factories
SP, Kulkarni, joint director of the Directorate of Industrial Safety and Health (DISH) of he Maharashtra Labour Department said, “We inspect various chemical factories on a regular basis and it was done in this case as well. We would also be carrying out inspection of other chemical factories in Dombivali.”
Residents of more than 100 buildings in the vicinity where the blasts took place have been forced to move out of their homes, leaving them stranded on the roads
Restaurant glass shattered
Owner, Prasad Hotel
We have suffered a loss of more than Rs 5 lakh because of the explosion. The blast was so huge that all the glasses in the front of the hotel have been damaged. It has also ruined all of the interiors. Three of my staffers have been injured and one of them has also suffered a fracture on his leg.
Secretary, Pushpam Villa
It was a very huge blast that made us deaf and confused for more than five minutes. The house is complete mess because of the explosion. We were forced to leave it. Will it be safe to live in our home now?
Resident, Chintamani Darshan Society
We reside on the ground floor. The blast broke the window panes and cupboard glass in our house. My mother Nanda suffered a head injury. She was having tea on the table near the window. Just then, the blast took place and pieces of glass hit her forehead.
Dombivli has completed changed within a few minutes of the explosion. Most of the shops and buildings were shut. All of the residents are out on the streets.
Sanjay Kumar Jaiswal
Works at AWRS India
I work as a tunnel fitter at AWRS India Private Limited [located behind the factory] and live there as well. I was working inside when the incident took place. My son Yuvraj has suffered a head injury. My boss Ismail Shaikh has suffered eye injuries and is in the hospital.
Resident, Pushpam Villa
My wife Anita has suffered leg injuries while my daughter Gauri and I suffered minor injuries. We came out after the first blast. When we came near the door, all of the plaster including the iron sheet fell on us. The house is a total mess and we don’t have any alternative residential arrangement.
The impact of the blast was such that it claimed a 42-year-old passer-by. Auto driver Raju Shirgiray died of a cardiac arrest at the spot upon hearing the blasts. “Raju was brought dead to the hospital. He seemed to be a patient of blood pressure, and got stunned by the sudden loud noise. This resulted in a cardiac arrest,” said a doctor.
Sushant Kamble (26), who had joined the firm in March, has gone missing since the blasts. His wife Sonal claimed that he hasn’t returned any of her calls. The couple has a daughter (2). Sonal alter informed her father-in-law Krishna at their hometown in Pimpri. Sushant parents rushed to his Dombivli residence and have searching frantically to locate their son. The Kambles claimed they visited every hospital the blast victims were rushed to, but are yet to find the family’s sole breadwinner. “I have searched all the hospital, but to no avail. I am begging the officials to give some information about him,” said Sushant’s mother Chaya
Four-year-old Sanskriti Ramesh Gurva sustained grievous injuries to her face due to the vortex force of the blasts. Sanskriti was playing near a window inside her residence in Pushparivar building. The force shattered the windows and the broken pieces of the glass fell on the little girl. She girl is currently undergoing treatment in the ICU at AIMS hospital.
Unmed Prasad (45), an employee of the Acharaya chemical factory that is adjacent to the blast site in Sonar Pada, was rushed to the Icon hospital. “Glass pieces fell on his face, injuring the mandibular part. He also sustained head injuries and is a patient of high blood pressure. The patient is critical but stable,” said Dr Rashmi Sonar, physician at Icon hospital. Speaking to mid-day, Prasad said, “I was working in the first shift when the blast occurred. Most of us sustained injuries. I found myself in the hospital upon regaining consciousness.”
IT manager Ravindra Walavarkar (41), who works for a Mumbai-based firm, was rushed to Icon hospital for treatment. “I was getting ready to for work, when the blast occurred. My immediate reaction was to switch of the AC. It was here that another blast took place and the next thing I know is that glass pieces from the window pierced my body. I assumed it to be either a bomb blast or a transformer explosion.”
Nyandev Mahadik (38), a resident of Sanghvi Garden, said, “I took an off to complete some work. I was on my way home form a general store when I heard a big bang. Out of nowhere, a few stone hit my left leg.”
Seventy-year-old Bikaji Babadi said that his wntire body was covered in his own blood after shattered glass fell on his body after the blast. “The intensity was such that it crumpled the main door,” he added.
— Inputs by Faisal Tandel and Silky Sharma