A massive blast in a boiler of a chemical factory in Maharashtra's Nashik district on Sunday killed 2 and left 17 injured ushering in a tragic New Year for the ill-fated unit. The blast in the Jindal Poly Films factory, located in Mundhegaon along the Mumbai-Agra highway in Igatpuri taluka, was so powerful that the blast was heard in nearby villages. Sources said both the deceased were women.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde visited the accident site, located about 30 km from Nashik and 130 km from Mumbai. He also met the injured persons admitted to a hospital in Nashik.

Earlier in the day, Divisional Revenue Commissioner Radhhakrishna Game told reporters a blast led to the fire at the chemical plant. "Normally, 20 to 25 people work in the plant. But, as it was the first day of the New Year, the number was less on Sunday. As huge grass has grown on the premises and inflammable material is lying everywhere, our first aim is to control the fire. The exact reason behind the blaze is yet to be ascertained. It will take some time, Game added.

"The fire in Jindal company was huge. The reason behind it is not known yet. A high-level inquiry into the incident will be conducted. 19 employees were injured in the incident and two of them lost their lives," the chief minister said.

He said the next of kin of each deceased will get Rs 5 lakh aid from the state government and the injured will get free medical treatment. Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said 19 persons were rescued and 17 of them were admitted to a private hospital for treatment.

A senior official said as it was the first day of the New Year, the number of workers present at the factory was less. Officials said some workers were present on the premises of the chemical unit when the incident occurred.

Union Minister of State for Health Bharati Pawar, who hails from Nashik, told reporters at least 100 beds have been kept ready in various hospitals Nashik District Civil Hospital, SMBT Hospital, and other medical facilities (in case of a need).

Even though the exact cause behind the fire is not known, a senior official said the blaze didn't appear to have been caused by a boiler, a senior official said.

"The three boilers out of the five at the Jindal Poly Films in Igatpuri were of waste heat recovery or running on thermic fluid. It does not use any inflammable material to prepare steam.”

"The remaining two boilers are of small industrial boilers type, which means there is a minimum chance of it causing a fire inside the plant," Dhaval Antapurkar, Director at the Directorate of Steam Boilers, a Maharashtra government body, said in a statement.

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