Raebareli: The death toll in NTPC power plant explosion went up to 26 by Thursday morning. Few are still feared trapped inside the coal-fired plant.
On Wednesday evening, an explosion ripped a boiler in NTPC's Unchahar plant in Uttar Pradesh's Raebareli district. Scores of people inside the premises suffered severe burn injuries.
The total number of casualties likely to go up after the blades of the boiler are cut up, said the Uttar Pradesh Police on Wednesday evening.
More than 150 ambulances were pressed into relief and rescue work that was affected by a huge ball of dust that rose after the 500-MW boiler (power generating unit) exploded.
Nearly 22 victims with severe burn injuries have been sent to Lucknow and 15 victims in Raebareli hospital. Some victims have been sent to Allahabad.
“Ambulances were ready. Many patients were immediately shifted to Unnao, Balrampur and Pratapgarh,” said Dr Talha Shamsi, Raebareli Hospital.
Local administration and NTPC officials rushed to the site to conduct rescue operations. Two companies of Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) has been deployed as part of reinforcement.
Among those injured, four are from assistant general manager-rank officials. Three of them, first shifted to a private hospital in Lucknow, were being flown to Delhi.
One injured died in Lucknow's civil hospital where eight had been admitted. Medical Superintendent Ashutosh Dube said all of them had 80 to 90 percent burns and are in critical condition.
According to eyewitness reports, the explosion was so powerful that the employees had little chance to save themselves.
"I heard a deafening sound and saw fire. There were bodies all around Unit 6," said Rakesh Pandey, who was at a nearby tea-stall.
Initial reports suggest that the blast occurred due to high pressure in a steam pipe of the boiler, said Raebareli sub-divisional magistrate Alok Kumar. Fire engulfed the entire Unit 6, which was recently commissioned and still running on trial. Near about 200 workers were on duty.
CRPF and police jawans have been deployed at the plant which has been sealed to check any unauthorised entry.
"We do not rule out any human error," said an NTPC official.
UP Energy Minister Shrikant Sharma admitted that it was a major industrial accident and said, "Our top priority is to rescue those still trapped and provide best medical care to injured workers. We will certainly fix responsibility and initiate action against anyone found guilty," he said.
The NTPC has initiated a probe to ascertain the reasons behind the blast.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter:
Deeply pained by the accident at the NTPC plant in Raebareli. My thoughts are with the bereaved families. May the injured recover quickly. The situation is being closely monitored & officials are ensuring normalcy is restored: PM @narendramodi
— PMO India (@PMOIndia) November 1, 2017
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath announced Rs 2 lakh compensation for the families of those killed and Rs 50,000 for the grievously injured.
On Thursday morning, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi left for Raebareli, the parliamentary constituency of his mother and Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
With agency inputs