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SIPCOT tanker owner-driver dead after falling into the tank

Cuddalore 4 June, 2006: 45 year old Shanmugam of Masapettai village in Vellore district was found dead yesterday inside the chemicals tanker lorry (TAV 5796), which he owned and drove. According to SACEM reports the accident occurred on 1 June 2006, which was the last that the service station owner saw Mr. Shanmugam. According to one version of the story, Shanmugam's tanker had delivered chemicals to Tantech Agro Chemicals, which does subcontract work for pharmaceutical manufacturer Shasun chemicals in SIPCOT. After the delivery on 1 June, the vehicle was taken to a water service station on the Virudhachalam Road in the evening. The owner of the water service station saw Shanmugham leaving the vehicle on that day and going out but did not see him return. On 3 June 2006, the cleaner of the tanker lorry and Mr. Shanmugam's companion noticed that he had been missing for two days and started a search for him. During the search he noticed a foul odour from the tanker and subsequently found the body inside the tanker. The body was removed from the tanker by the fire service personnel. A police complaint has also been filed in this regard. It is speculated that the death occurred as Mr. Shanmugam lost his consciousness and fell into the tanker or slipped and fell inside it.

Mr. Shanmugam’s death has also been reported in 4 June edition of the local tamil daily Dinamalar. The newspaper story confirms the death but mentions that Shanmugam had delivered chemicals to TANFAC rather than Tantech. It is thus not clear which unit received the chemicals and what was the nature of it.

Such tanker accidents have been reported before from SIPCOT. Service stations and workshops are unaware of the hazards in handling chemical tanker lorries.

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