The impact of the blast could be felt even 8-10 kilometres away from the site, shattering windows in buildings 3 km away, including the windows on the Boisar Police station. Rescue and search operations are still underway. The deceased have been identified as Pintu Kumar Gautam, Alok Nath and Janu Adaria.
Further details are awaited and senior civil and police officials, besides disaster management teams, have rushed to the spot.
The fire, which had spread to the other companies, has been brought under control and efforts are on to douse it, the officer said.
Four surrounding chemical units - belonging to Prachi Industries (manufacturing iodine), Bharat Rasayan, Arti Industries (manufacturing vitamins), Unimax and others - were either partially or completely destroyed. Aarti Drug's staffer Sunil Yadav said he heard a loud explosion while he was working at night.
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As per reports, the factory manufactures speciality chemicals and cosmetic preservatives. It is probing the cause of the fire and has filed an accidental death report, said sources.
According to locals, at least 22 tankers with varying capacities between 100-200 litres burst due to the fire. At least two injured remain in critical condition. Tarapur MIDC was the most important, as there are around 1,100 chemical units which store hazardous and flammable chemicals here. District collector Prashant Narnaware said prima facie it appears that the solvent plant did not follow safety precautions. Those injured were rushed to Thunga, Sanjeevani, Vikas, Anand and government rural hospital in Palghar.
The Tarapur Atomic Power Station is 20 km west of where the blaze occurred and was not affected by it, the MIDC official said.