KAKINADA: Twelve persons including nine women were burnt to death and seven others suffered serious burns in a mishap at an illegal firecracker manufacturing unit at Vakathippa, a coastal village in U. Kothapalli mandal, 22 km from Kakinada on Monday afternoon.
Among the dead were four members of one family. The blast was so intense that the bodies of the victims were blown into the adjacent fields. About 40 workers, most of them women, were working at the unit at the time of the blast. The women were daily wagers and the unit owner, Koppisetty Appa Rao, had engaged them by paying a relative low Rs 150 at his Manikanta Fireworks.
Some reports said Appa Rao, owner of an illegal firecracker manufacturing unit at Vakathippa, a coastal village in U. Kothapalli mandal, 22 km from Kakinada and his mother were among those injured in the blast on Monday.
Police said Appa Rao had been running the cracker manufacturing unit at Vakathippa village for 20 years. He had applied for renewal of his licence on March 31 butrevenue officials had not given permission yet.
According to one version of the accident, a woman in the tiled crackers unit lit a stove to prepare tea and the blast followed immediately. According to another version, somebody threw a lit cigarette resulting in the blast.
Police superintendent M. Ravi Prakash told this newspaper that a case had been booked against the owner under section 304 (2) 309 under the Explosive Act.
Ministers N. China Rajappa, P. Manikyala Rao, Pithapuram legislator S.V.S.N. Varma rushed to the spot and instructed officials to ensure immediate medical help to the injured.
Mr Rajappa announced that the state government would give Rs 2 lakh compensation to the family of each of the victims and medical treatment would be given to the survivors. He said that the government had ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident. He said he had ordered all illegal cracker manufacturing units to be closed down.