Six people were killed and two injured in a bomb explosion on Tuesday night near the controversial Kudankulam nuclear plant in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, only weeks after the plant began producing power after years of delays and public protests.
A spokesperson for India’s Ministry of Home Affairs said a “country-made bomb” went off “accidentally” when some people were making explosives inside a home near Idinthakarai village, about 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the nuclear power plant, Press Trust of India reported. A woman and three children were among the dead, the report said.
A senior official of the Department of Atomic Energy said the Kudankulam facility is unharmed and continues to operate safely. An investigation team visited the scene, along with the state’s top law enforcement officials.
Protesters have been demanding for more than two years that the plant be shut down and investigators are looking into suspicions that anti-nuclear energy activists may have been responsible for the blast. On Wednesday, police booked anti-nuclear protester S.P. Uthayakumar, who heads the People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy, and his associates, in connection with the blast, Hindustan Times reported.
The nuclear energy plant, which was built as part of a cooperative exercise between India and Russia, was connected to the power grid on Oct. 22, after India’s Supreme Court ruled in May that the facility was prepared to begin “safe and secure” operations.
The plant has drawn fierce opposition over fears of a disaster similar to the catastrophe at Japan's Fukushima nuclear facility, after a tsunami hit that country's coast in March 2011. The Kudankulam plant is located on India's east coast, which also was hit by a deadly tsunami in December 2004.
But, the Indian government has said that the plant is necessary to meet India’s growing energy needs and is “completely safe.”