Bodies of two workers recovered from debris

Fire brigade had to break two concrete roofs and beams of the building

Charred bodies of two women workers, Hameeda and Kartheeswari, were on Tuesday evening recovered from the concrete debris of a cracker tube-making unit where an explosion on Monday led to collapse of the building.

Fire and Rescue Services personnel toiled to break two concrete roofs and beams of the building since Monday evening. “The rescue work had to be suspended late on Monday night as a precautionary measure after we found raw materials for making fireworks, along with crackers, being illegally stocked there,” said Superintendent of Police M. Manohar.

Fire service personnel, led by District Fire Officer K. Ganesan, resumed the rescue operation under the supervision of Virudhunagar Collector J. Meghanath Reddy, on Tuesday morning even as the crackers were bursting from under the debris.

“The building was relatively new and its good quality of construction posed a challenge in breaking the concrete structure,” he added. After a day-long effort, the body of Kartheeswari was found at 4.40 p.m. and that of Hameeda by 5.30 p.m.

Initially, the police suspected that the owner of the tube-making unit, Panchavarnam and her husband Ramanathan, had been trapped under the debris along with other workers. However, the SP clarified that no other body was found and investigation revealed that the family members had left their house before the accident. Efforts were on to trace them, Mr. Manohar said.

One of the two injured workers, Velmurugan, had reportedly told the police that the unit owner had got crackers for the paper tubes supplied to fireworks units.“We need to verify his statement as raw materials were also found inside the unit that has to deal only with non-explosive materials,” he added.

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