At least 13 people were killed and 58 others injured in chain explosions of nitrogen gas cylinders at a chemical factory in Maharashtra's Dhule district today morning, the police said.
A leaking chemical from a barrel triggered fire which led to serial explosions in the factory at about 9:45 am, a senior police officer told news agency PTI.
At least 100 workers were present in the factory at the time of the incident, he added.
The officer said the rescue operation at the spot is still going on while the blaze has been brought under control.
Teams of fire brigade, police, State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) are conducting the relief and rescue operations.
The deafening sound of explosions caused panic in the vicinity prompting many people to rush out of their houses.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has expressed grief over the loss of lives in the explosion and announced Rs 5 lakh compensation to the families of those killed.
The factory, Rumit Chemsynth Pvt Ltd, manufactures a chemical used for making medicines.
The officer said that presence of a number of nitrogen gas cylinders and barrels containing chemicals in the factory increased the severity of the blasts.
Police initially suspected the boiler of the company had exploded, but have found it to be intact.
The injured have been admitted at the Dhule civil hospital and Shirpur Cottage Hospital.
A contingent of Riot Control Police has been deployed at the spot along with local police personnel.
Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to Devendra Fadnavis and took stock of the situation.
"Anguished to learn about the loss of lives due to explosion at a chemical factory in Maharashtra. Have spoken to Devendra Fadnavis and the state govt is doing everything possible to assist people in need. My condolences with the bereaved families. May injured recover soon," he tweeted.
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