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FIVE DEAD IN LATEX FACTORY TRAGEDY

The Magisterial inquiry and Police investigations in progress.

Five persons died as a result of being exposed to toxic ammonia, at a latex factory in Bellapitiya, Horana yesterday.

Police Spokesman SP Ruwan Gunasekara told the Daily News that the Manager of the factory, Ratnasiri Edirisinghe, a resident of Werahera, Boralesgamuwa has been arrested in connection with the incident on grounds of negligence, for not having taken proper precautionary measures to ensure the safety of the workers.

The owner of the factory has also been summoned to the Horana Police to give a statement in this regard. However, the owner was missing, police said.

He said there were two factory employees and three area residents among the dead. One of the factory workers had fallen into a tank that collects waste matter containing ammonia and the others had gone to rescue the victim and had been exposed to the toxic material and around several others were taken to the Horana hospital in an unconscious state. Later the man who fell into the tank and four others who had tried to rescue him were also pronounced dead.

According to the Police Spokesman, the incident had occurred at around 1.20pm yesterday. However, he said that it was unknown how the person had fallen into the tank, but it was speculated that he had fallen into the tank which collects the ammonia waste from the rubbery factory, while cleaning it.

The police said that a group of people had tried to rescue the man but had become unconscious having inhaled the toxic gas. They had been rushed to the Horana hospital, but four of them were pronounced dead.

The victims who had died in the incident are Priyantha Kumara Perera (41), Dileep Kasun (32), Lal Pushpakumara (28), Waruna Chandrasekara (23) and Ariyapala Perera (44).

SP Gunasekara said the Horana Acting Magistrate had conducted the magisterial inquiry at the factory this last evening.

Ten other victims are currently receiving treatment at the Horana hospital while Horana Police are conducting further investigations.