Six feared dead in a quarry blast in Karnataka’s Chikkaballapur

According to initial reports, the blast occurred when gelatin sticks used for blasting were being transported in a vehicle.

At least six people are feared dead in a blast at a quarry site at Hirenagaveli village, Chikkaballapur district, in the intervening hours between Monday and Tuesday.

According to initial reports, the blast occurred when gelatin sticks used for blasting were being transported in a vehicle. The explosion occured while the deceased were transporting gelatin sticks to conceal them in the forest area nearby, say police sources.

Two have been held in connection with the incident. A case has been registered at Gudibande police station. An FSL team is at the spot.

Illegal quarrying and lack of safety measures at quarry site has been in spotlight in Karnataka ever since a blast killed six people in Shivamogga district late last month.

Initial details emerge

On February 7, the police, led by S.P. Mithun Kumar, had raided the quarry and sealed it before confiscating the explosibles.

But the crushers owned by three persons, including local owner Nagaraj, possessed illegal explosives and wanted to conceal them in the forest area, it is learnt.

As per the instructions given, the staff, including Abhi, who worked as accountant in the firm and has died in the incident, carried the explosives late in the night in a goods vehicle.

The police are now initiated probe on who had given instructions.

Nagaraj and two of his business partners from Andhra Pradesh are absconding.

High level probe ordered

Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa has said that a high level probe is going on into the incident.

In a tweet, the Chief Minister said that stringent action would be initiated against the guilty after the completion of inquiry.

Leaders react

Health Minister K. Sudhakar, in-charge of the district, visited the spot and promised action against those responsible for the incident. Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai also visited the spot.

Murugesh Nirani, Minister for Mining and Geology, said that culprits will be brought to book. “We will take measures to ensure that only licence holders can carry out blasts and illegal activities are checked,” he said.

Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president D.K. Shivakumar, meanwhile, said that it is the indifference and irresponsibility of the government that has led to such an incident recurring. “The government is busy sorting it’s own internal troubles and has no time to ensure that crucial law enforcement issues are addressed,” he said in a statement.

PM expresses pain over loss of lives

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed pain over loss of lives in the incident.

“Pained by the loss of lives due to a mishap at Chikkaballapur in Karnataka. Condolences to the bereaved families. Praying that the injured recover quickly,” Mr. Modi wrote on Twitter.

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