According to Palghar Control police official Pramod Pawar, the blast occurred around 11.15 p.m.in the chemical company's plant here.
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. Around 25 fire engines from Boisar, Tarapur, Vasai-Virar, Thane and Bhiwandi rushed to the spot and battled for almost six hours before bringing the flames under control by 5.15 am. The entire area has been cordoned off as teams are trying their best to extinguish the fire.
Even as firemen and disaster teams had rushed to the site, the blaze had quickly spread to at least five other chemical companies in the vicinity, Shinge said.
Eyewitnesses said the explosion, "sounding like a huge bomb", happened when many were preparing to retire for the night. As a few areas continued to burn, search and cooling operations began only around noon.
Almost 30 to 40 loud explosions were heard by locals as they came out of their houses fearing an natural disaster. The 14 injured were admitted to a nearby hospital, of which at least two are said to be critical, and may have to be shifted to Mumbai. As of Friday morning police, fire, revenue and health personnel were on the spot and carrying out search & rescue operations. It quickly spread to nearby factories.
Tarapur Atomic Power Station, which is also situated on Boisar-Tarapur Road is around 20 kilometres away from the spot, he added. The plant manufactures speciality chemicals and cosmetic preservatives dealing in high-purity acid and acid anhydrides, which are organic compounds. The explosion caused a major fire to break out. Over 1,000 chemical units storing hazardous and flammable chemicals are located in the area.