KOCHI: The Centre today sought a report from Cochin Shipyard Limited on the explosion and fire on an under repair ONGC drill ship that claimed five lives, even as a preliminary probe suggested it was caused by 'momentary explosion of high impact'.
Minister of State for Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan visited the shipyard this morning and took stock of the situation on board "Sagar Bhushan," a day after the ONGC ship was hit by the explosion.
"The Minister instructed CSL to conduct a thorough investigation and ascertain the root cause and report the details to Ministry of Shipping," a CSL statement said here.
The condition of one of the seriously injured persons continues to be critical, the company said.
After the review and interactions, Radhakrishnan directed CSL to extend additional assistance to the affected, including employment as appropriate, based on qualification, to one immediate dependent family member of the deceased.
Talking to reporters, the Minister said there was an explosion, but no sign of fire inside the ship. He said CSL on its part has begun a high-level internal inquiry into the incident. Technical investigations are being carried out by the DG Shipping and Factories and Boilers Department, he said.
"Police is also taking all steps. After the enquiry only we can find out the reasons for the explosion," the Minister said, after visiting the injured at a hospital here.
CSL said the Director, Factories and Boilers, visited the spot and recorded his observations.
"As per the preliminary assessment, the accident has been caused by a momentary explosion of high impact that has occurred near the A/C plant, which is situated above the Ballast Tank," the CSL statement quoted him as saying.
The probable location of the explosion was identified, based on the nature of deflections on bulkheads (steel walls) and extent of damage observed during inspection, it said.
The site of the accident has been cordoned off and is being investigated by the forensic department of police.
The company said the source of gas leakage and reason for the explosion was yet to be confirmed and would be clarified only after completion of it's internal enquiry.
"The accident is observed to have happened near the A/C plant when the area was being inspected by CSL Fire and Safety personnel prior to issuing work permit for starting of the work," the company said.
In a statement yesterday, CSL had said five people died and seven were injured in the incident.
The Minister appreciated the efforts of the CSL management in reaching out to the families of the deceased and also for promptly announcing ex-gratia to their kith and kin.
CSL had declared Rs 10 lakh to the family of the deceased in addition to other statutory benefits as applicable.
An amount of Rs 25,000 was disbursed as immediate incidental expenses to the families of the deceased.
The company is also ensuring best medical care and meeting all hospital/treatment expenses for the injured.
Radhakrishnan also directed that an amount equivalent to two months wages be disbursed immediately, besides appropriate education assistance for children of the deceased upto completion of degree level education.
In addition to the statutory compensation relief, CSL should disburse wages to the injured till they return to work, he said.
During the interaction with the unions and associations, Radhakrishnan and the CSL Chairman and Managing Director Madhu S Nair promised adequate support to all affected families.
The employees also appreciated the management for the positive and prompt response in the aftermath of the accident.
Head of Mercantile Marine Department in Kochi, which is under the DG Shipping, Ajithkumar Sukumaran, said its probe would cover all aspects, including lapses, if any, that had occurred in conducting mandatory safety and security checks before commencing the repairing job.
CSL said the ONGC vessel had arrived at Cochin Shipyard on December 7, 2017 for dry dock repairs. It was dry-docked on January 12, 2018 and was to be undocked on February 28, 2018. Work completion was scheduled by April 7, 2018.