Shivamogga: Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Friday said that the police have detained the quarry owner and a mining explosives supplier over the mining quarry blast that took place on the outskirts of the Shivamogga district a day earlier.
“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 the 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.