Six ladies and two men were killed because of suffocation created by substantial smoke in a private scan centre after a fire broke out up a close-by cracker shop in Sivakasi on Thursday. While manager of the scan centre A. Diminish, A. Kamatchi (22), G. Valarmathi, P. Pusphalakshmi, R. Raja and P. Padma Latha were employees of the scan centre, Devi (18) and H. Sornakumari were visitors.
The police said the fire was triggered by contact while loading crackers on a truck stopped on the Virudhunagar ByPass Road here at 1.30 p.m. The workers were loading the firecrackers packs from Ragavendra agency.
As the truck load of crackers began blasting, the merchandise inside the shop went up on fire. With thick smoke immersing the region, the patients, specialists and staff of Devaki Scan Center, situated on the back side of the shop, got stuck inside.
“They could not come out of the centre as its pathway, adjacent to the shop, was on fire,” Sivakasi Deputy Superintendent of Police K. Saravanakumar said.
Smoke entered the scan centre and people raised an alarm seeking help. “Only after hearing their alarm, were went to its back side and broke open a window and rescued people,” Sivakasi Station Fire Officer K. Murugan said.
Though the operation was done within 15 minutes, many inside the centre were in a semi-conscious state. “Out of 41 persons, including the staff members, only 15 persons walked out. Others were almost unconscious. Only those eight persons, who suffered the most, died in hospitals,” he added.
“The death was only because of suffocation due to thick fumes and none of them had any physical injuries. Among the deceased, five are employees of the scan centre,” the Collector said.
The licensee of the shop, Anandaraj, and Shenbagaraman, who is running the shop, have been booked, the police said.