Six killed while disposing of explosives meant for quarrying

Bengaluru, Feb 23 (PTI): Six people were killed when the gelatin sticks they were trying to dispose of clandestinely exploded accidentally at a stone quarry site in a village in Chikkaballapur early Tuesday, police said.
The government has ordered a CID probe into the blast.
Police said preliminary investigation indicated use of petroleum gel and Ammonium Nitrate in the quarry that was operating clandestinely and was closed a few days ago following raids.
The incident comes close on the heels of a similar blast at a quarry site in Yediyurappa’s hometown of Shivamogga on January 22, which left six dead. Karnataka Health Minister K Sudhakar, who represents the Chikkaballapur constituency, visited the spot and said the bodies of the victims were badly mutilated and scattered all over the place.
Expressing shock over the incident, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa said he has ordered a thorough investigation into the case and directed the officials to take stringent action against the guilty.
“A high-level investigation into the incident is underway and stringent action will be taken against the guilty,” he added.
“…..Whoever is involved in illegal activities, we will take merciless action,” he said.
Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai ordered a CID inquiry into the blast after visiting the spot.
According to police, the incident took place at Hirenagavalli near Peresandra.
Quarrying was stopped by the police on February 7 following complaints from the locals against rampant use of gelatin sticks.
Yet, it continued clandestinely following which another raid was carried out a few days ago and the contractor was warned not to use gelatin anymore.
The men working there went in a vehicle to dispose of the explosives early Tuesday when it went off accidentally.
The driver of the vehicle who escaped with severe injuries in the legs and hand told police that the victims took him along carrying a bag with them.
“They were holding a bag and asked me to drive the vehicle to the forest.I remained seated in the vehicle but the door was open.They went to a secluded place and suddenly the blast occurred,” the driver said.
According to a statement issued by Bommai’s office, Sri Shirdi Sai Agencies owned the quarry spread over six acres.
While the mining was taking place in three acres, the rest of the area had the stone crushing facility.
Karnataka Mines and Geology Minister Murugesh R Nirani said in a series of tweets that the government has been taking stringent measures against illegal mining activities, transportation and storage of explosives used for mining.
“It’s rather very unfortunate that the blast occurred in Chikkaballapur before the wounds of the Shivamogga blast have healed,” Nirani said.
The government will leave no stone unturned in ensuring the safety of people in the mining areas, he said,adding a thorough probe will be conducted to ascertain the cause of the explosion and those responsible will be punished.
Nirani further said the government will provide all necessary assistance to the kin of the deceased and injured.
Praying for the speedy recovery of the injured, he said senior officials were already at the spot and assessing the situation.
“I have learnt from the officials that the explosives were stored before the Shivamogga blast.The culprits will not be spared no matter how much influence they wield.”
136 missing people whose body not found to be ‘presumed dead’: Uttarakhand Official
Dehradun, Feb 23 (PTI) The Uttarakhand government has issued a notification authorising officials to declare “presumed dead” 136 people still missing after the flash flood in Chamoli district over two weeks ago.
Sixty-eight bodies have so far been recovered after the February 7 disaster possibly triggered by an avalanche.
A devastating flash flood demolished a 13.2 MW hydel project along the river besides causing extensive damage to the NTPC’s Tapovan-Vishnugad hydel project along Dhauliganga. About 35 people were feared trapped inside a tunnel in Tapovan. The debris and sludge has only been removed from a portion of the tunnel.
Uttarakhand Health Secretary Amit Singh Negi said on Tuesday that the presumption of death can be made by officials in the affected district only in case of missing people who in all likelihood have died in the disaster but their bodies have not been found.
Normally the missing are declared dead only when they are not traced for seven years after the incident responsible for their disappearance but in case of an extraordinary occurrence like the one witnessed in Uttarakhand special provisions can be made, he said.
The move to declare those who continue to be missing in the flash flood as presumed dead has been initiated to expedite the process of distribution of compensation among the affected families, he said.
The notification was issued on the basis of an SOP issued by the Centre in this regard on February 21, Negi said. A similar SOP was issued by the Centre after the Kedarnath deluge of June, 2013 in which thousands of people were killed and left missing.
The SOP was formulated on the request of the state government by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India, he said.
In normal circumstances, the death is registered only on the reports from persons mentioned in section 8 of the Registration of Births and Deaths (RBD) Act, 1969.
However, in extraordinary cases like the one in Uttarakhand, reports from public servants after due enquiry can be made use of for registering the deaths, the notification said.
As regards people whose body has been found, it is needless to state that the normal process of issuing death certificates should be followed, Negi said.
In case of missing persons, who in all likelihood have died but the body is not traceable, all reasonable efforts should be made to determine that the person has in all likelihood died in the natural calamity, the official said.
According to the notification, the missing have to be divided into three categories — permanent residents present in the affected areas during the catastrophe, residents of other districts of Uttarakhand who happened to be in affected areas and tourists/persons from other states who were present there at the time of the catastrophe.
The notification also gives details of the process of enquiry to be followed in case of those missing in the three categories.

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