Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa
Karnataka Chief Minister B S YediyurappaIANS (File photo)

Shivamogga blast: Karnataka to give Rs 5 lakh each to victims' next-of-kin

Bengaluru, January 22, 2021

Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Friday announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the next-of-kin of those who died in a blast at a quarry in Shivamogga and asserted that his government was committed to stop all illegal mining in the state.

Expressing "shock" over the dynamite blast in his hometown Shivamogga, Yediyurappa tweeted in Kannada that he was in touch with senior officials since late night to oversee rescue operation.

"Such incidents should not happen. Illegal mining will be dealt with sternly. We have already stopped illegal mining; we will stop all such mining activities. Let the investigation take place, let the report come, we will take action," he tweeted.

Five persons were killed in the tragic incident that occurred in a quarry around 10.20 pm on Thursday.

"I wish to express my deepest condolences to the families of the deceased. The wounded are being treated and I wish them all a speedy recovery. A high-level investigation into the incident has been ordered and strict action against the guilty is certain," he said.

Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai said that the police has detained the quarry owner and a mining explosives supplier over the mining quarry blast.

"Our prima facie investigations reveal that there seems to be some negligence by the quarry owner and the operators. Police have already detained the quarry owner and the dynamite supplier for questioning. Probe is on," Bommai told reporters.

According to the police, the quarry unit spans over 21 acres and is owned by S. T. Kulkarni.

Stone crushing was reportedly being carried out in five acres of this plot, for which licence was granted in April 2019 and is valid till 2024.

"The crushing unit was licensed under Sudhakar's name. Meanwhile, the police have taken into custody two people -- Sudhakar and Avinash Kulkarni, the son of S. T. Kulkarni -- for questioning," the police said.

Mines and Geology Minister Murugesh Rudrappa Nirani, revealed that among the 15 people killed in the blast were labourers from Bihar.

"It is suspected that gelatin sticks in a truck near the stone quarry exploded, killing the labourers from Bihar. I am saddened by the tragic incident at a stone quarry near Abbalagere in Shivamogga," he said.

Meanwhile the number of casualties remains unclear as different sources have reported varying death tolls.

Varying statements on death toll by ministers and Chief Minister have added to confusion further over the exact number of casualties.

Nirani said that 15 people have died but his tweet says four casualties while Home Minister Bommai said that seven were killed in the incident and Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa announced that five people lost their lives in the explosion.

But the authorities have not ruled out the possibility of the death toll increasing.

"There are rumours that at least 10 to 15 people have died. Let the police complete their investigation and until then it would difficult to state anything on casualties," Shivamogga Deputy Commissioner K.B. Shivakumar told reporters.

Shivamogga MP B.Y, Raghavendra said that as many 40 to 50 crushers are operational in this area.

"They had taken a license from the district administrator. The investigation is going on. Not only Railways, but they were also supplying (material) to all development works like residential purposes, public work," he said after visiting the blast site.

The state's Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister K.S. Eshwarappa, who represents the Shivamogga Assembly constituency, told the media that something like this has never happened in the area before.

"We are witnessing this for the first time here. Experts are coming from Bengaluru, they will give a report after which we will take action," he added.

The explosion occurred at around 10.20 p.m. on Thursday night and jolted Shivamogga and thee neighbouring regions.

The sound of the blast was so intense that it was reportedly heard in neighbouring Davangere, Chikkamagaluru and Uttara Kannada districts, which are 95 km, 97 km and 180 km away, respectively, from Shivamogga.

In Shivamogga, some houses developed cracks, roof tiles and window panes shattered into pieces within a radius of 15 km of the blast site.

President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other leaders expressed grief over the death of the labourers in the explosion.

Kovind tweeted that the news about loss of lives in the explosion was unfortunate and tragic. "My thoughts and prayers are with the victims' families and loved ones during this difficult hour. I wish speedy recovery to the injured," he said.

Modi also expressed anguish at the loss of lives and said that the state government was providing all assistance to the affected. The Prime Minister's Office quoted Modi as saying: "Pained by the loss of lives in Shivamogga. Condolences to the bereaved families. Praying that the injured recover soon. The state government is providing all possible assistance to the affected."

Expressing grief, former Congress President Rahul Gandhi demanded an "in-depth probe" into the blast.

"Condolences to the families of the victims. Such incidents call for in-depth investigation so that similar tragedies can be avoided in the future," he said.

Karnataka Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah appealed to Yediyurappa to order an impartial inquiry and ensure punishment to the guilty. "Very pained to know about the death of labourers in Shivamogga due to explosion on a truck carrying gelatin. My deepest condolences to the family members of the victims," he tweeted.

Former Chief Minister and Janata Dal-Secular leader HD Kumaraswamy too called for an inquiry and demanded strict action against the guilty.

"The tragic death of many workers in Kalukwari village of Abbalagere in Shivamogga has killed many workers. May the soul of the dead find peace. The state government should investigate the blast at the quarry. Strict action must be taken against those responsible. Care should be taken that such incidents don't recur," he said.


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