Six people were killed in a massive blast in Shivamogga late on Thursday night after a truck containing gelatin sticks for blasting stones at a quarrying site, exploded. Authorities have told TNM that four of the six bodies have been retrieved but they are yet to be identified. Shivamogga Tahasildar Nagaraj NJ told TNM, "So far, six deaths have been confirmed and we initally managed to retrieve only two bodies, two more later. We are struggling to retrieve the bodies."
Shivamogga Rural Police Inspector Sanjeev Kumar told TNM that all district officials are at the site and bomb squads from Bengaluru and Mangaluru will arrive at the scene and examine the explosives.
“We are awaiting the bomb squad and forensics teams to arrive. Two teams one from Mangaluru and one from Bengaluru are expected to arrive in 30 minutes. The truck was blown into pieces. Some of the parts have flown away around 0.5 km from the blast site. We are awaiting the experts to arrive so they can comb the area and retrieve evidence,” Sanjeev Kumar said. It is not known yet what caused the truck to explode.
"The bodies have been sent to McGANN Teaching District Hospital in Shivamogga for post mortem. We cannot go to the centre of the site since we do not have clarity regarding the power of explosives or about any remnants that could explode. We are awaiting the arrival of the bomb squad to begin any further procedure," Nagaraj said.
The police also stated that two people have been arrested in connection with the blast in Shivamogga. The two arrested persons are Sudhakar and Narasimha, both partners of SS Crushers, the company that had leased the land from the owner Avinash Kulkarni to mine stones. According to the police, Avinash Kulkarni is absconding and a search is on to locate him.
The lorry exploded around 10 pm on Thursday, and the intensity of the blast was so high that it was heard in the two neighbouring districts, Chikkamagaluru and Uttara Kannada, as well. Visuals emerged of residents from the areas surrounding the spot of the explosion, coming out of their homes fearing it was an earthquake, as window panes shattered and some roads also witnessed cracks due to the impact of the blast.
Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa has condoled the deaths and has ordered an inquiry into the incident. Addressing the media, Minister for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj KS Eshwarappa said, "The reason for the blast is still not known. Experts are yet to arrive and they will give clarifications. The noise was heard till Shringeri. It was powerful and what caused this powerful a blast is not known yet."
Watch visuals from Shivamogga, as officials have reached the spot to carry out the probe:
With inputs from Sanjana Deshpande