Blasts occurred at a peroxides plant near Mumbai and an explosives factory in Chhattisgarh

A powerful explosion followed by a massive fire, apparently due to a boiler blast, ripped apart the Amudan Chemicals factory in Dombivli, on the outskirts of Mumbai, India, killing at least 10 people and injuring 68 on the afternoon of 23 May.

Dombivli explosion

Source: © Associated Press/Alamy Stock Photo

Members of the National Disaster Response Force search through the wreckage of a peroxides plant in Dombivli

‘All the workers in the immediate vicinity of the accident epicentre were [killed instantly], just a big crater remains there now with the entire workforce dead’, said Sachin Shejal of Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC). Deepa Shukla, medical health officer for KDMC, said 10 deaths are confirmed and the collected remains are being sent for DNA analysis for further identification and confirmation.

Most of the injured were working at other nearby factories. There are some 100 chemical units across the whole of the industrial area where the incident occurred. Maharashtra Industries Directory says the company produces methyl ethyl ketone peroxide, aluminium isopropoxide and organic peroxides. No previous incidents had been reported at this factory.

The company owners have been arrested by the police and accused of criminal offences ­– including culpable homicide, intentionally inflicting harm and reckless behaviour with flammable substances – as well as offences under India’s Explosive Substances Act and Damage to Public Property Act. As the police teams investigate, the local police alleges that proper precautions were not taken while processing and storing the raw materials and final products, which led to chemical explosions.

Maharashtra state chief minister Eknath Shinde has ordered a high level inquiry and announced compensation of ₹500,000 (£4700) for the families of the deceased. The state government will cover treatment costs for the injured, and the company will be required to provide further compensation, he confirmed.

Workers missing after explosives blast 

A second, unrelated explosion occurred at an industrial explosives factory run by Special Blasts in Bemetra, Chhattisgarh state, on 25 May. One worker is confirmed dead and a further seven injured, but several others are still missing. Local media reports show a 10m deep crater left by the blast. Recovery efforts have been hampered by risks from remaining stocks of explosives stored on the site.

Injured workers complained of lack of safety measures at the factory and absence of firefighters. Angry villagers, workers and the families of some of the missing began protesting outside the factory, seeking official confirmation of the missing workers’ deaths and compensation of ₹5.5 million for the families of the dead. District magistrate Ranbir Sharma said that the company has been directed to pay ₹500,000 to the families of eight missing workers, plus an additional ₹500,000 once deaths are confirmed. The state has also promised ₹50,000 plus free treatment for the injured.