The factory was working with around 20 staff members in the wee hours of Saturday when the incident took place.

2 men asphyxiated to death in TN factory that defied shutdown orders
news Crime Saturday, April 11, 2020 - 16:42

Two men died after inhaling poisonous gases at a factory that was operating illegally during COVID-19 lockdown in Salem district, Tamil Nadu.

According to the police, the incident happened in the wee hours of Saturday at a sago factory near Aathur, around 50 kilometres from Salem city. The factory, run by one Ravi, was operating with around 20 staff members on Saturday morning. Arumugam (40) and Karthik (20) were working in the factory when they went to turn on the nozzle in the chamber next to the natural gas station inside the factory.

“First Karthik went in to turn the nozzle on and he fell unconscious. Seeing that, Arumugam, his uncle, jumped in to rescue Karthik but he himself fainted,” a police officer said.

The police got the information by 5.30 am and rushed to the spot to rescue Karthik and Arumugam. Their bodies have been sent for autopsy and the police are investigating the factory owner and other employees as to why it was operating during the nationwide shutdown.

Speaking to TNM, Aathur DSP said that an FIR for unnatural death under Section 174 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) has been registered and the police are probing the case. When asked if the factory owner has been booked, the DSP said that based on the investigation, the case will be altered.

Tamil Nadu has been under a statewide shutdown since 6 pm on March 24. As per the state government’s orders, all industries have been ordered to close down till further orders in order to prevent unnecessary movement and gathering of people amid the pandemic. Only those industries which have continuous process for long-term production, like iron and steel factories, are allowed to operate at limited strength during the lockdown, as per the orders of the government. 

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