Three men, who lived half a kilometer away were the first ones to spot the bodies of the quarry workers.

Mangled metal dead bodies and white dust Eyewitnesses in Shivamogga recall blast
news Mining Friday, January 22, 2021 - 15:14

It was just another day for Satish, a 27-year-old farmer from Shivamogga’s Hunasodu village, who had returned home from working on his farm on Thursday evening. After sharing a meal with his family, Satish was relaxing at home, when he heard a loud noise at 10.05 pm. He rushed outside his house and within a minute, he heard another blast. “This one was really very loud. The air suddenly became thick with dust. The windows of my house shattered into many pieces,” Satish recalled. 

Satish’s house is located half a kilometer away from the stone quarry, where the blast occurred. He gathered other local residents Manjanna and Rajashekar, who set out towards the quarry, to find out what had happened. “The air was dusty and we were finding it hard to breathe even though we were wearing masks. It smelled poisonous, metallic, like it could kill you if you inhaled too much of it,” Satish added. 

With flashlights in hand, the trio reached the spot where the blast occurred. Manjanna, who was ahead of the other two, said he saw white powder everywhere and that it had begun covering his clothes, skin and hair. 

“It was amidst this that we saw dead bodies. That’s when we suspected that it was a blast of some sort. We could see mangled metal, which we later found out were remains of a lorry. We saw blood from underneath the white powder about 50 meters away from where we found the mangled metal,” Manjanna recounted. 

The men began searching the area and found another body, about 100 m away from the first one. “We began walking and saw three bodies lying next to each other. These three bodies were about 50 m away from the second one,” Satish said, while adding that they saw several notes with the Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 denominations flying in the air. 

“Many notes had caught fire. We saw some notes lying beneath the white powder. It looked as if someone was making a payment for whatever was in the truck,” Manjanna said. 

The three men then returned to the village square and placed a call to the Shivamogga Rural Police Station from the landline of a local shop. “Within minutes, the police officers came and began inspecting the site. Then the DC (Deputy Commissioner) came. Overnight, people swarmed our village. We don’t have many people come and go often,” Manjanna pointed out. 

He said that the blast caused damage to the homes of most residents in Hunasodu and that the terracotta tiles on his own rooftop blew up into pieces. The outer walls of his living room and kitchen are cracked, Manjanna said. “Many residents were scared. By the time we got back, there were rumours that it was an earthquake because so many people’s windows blew up and doors rattled. The government should really put a stop to these illegal mining activities,” he said. 

Read: Shivamogga blast that killed many was near illegal mining site

Read: Truck explosion in Shivamogga kills 6: Retrieving bodies a struggle for authorities

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