Explosion of a container at a steam core iron factory in Shadnagar claimed three lives and critically injured 10 on Wednesday even as fire-fighters battled another major fire in a chemical godown in Jeedimetla. The latter incident did not entail loss of lives but gutted property worth several crores.
The blast in the liquid iron container in Shadnagar happened around 9 a.m. during the first shift on Wednesday morning when about 20 workers were present there. The container burst and splattered liquid iron across the room, causing severe burns to the workers. All the three victims were aged between 25 and 35 and hailed from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
The injured were immediately shifted to a local hospital and then to private hospitals in Hyderabad. Three of them - Deep Lal, Kapil Khanna and Malkan Singh - succumbed to injuries while being shifted to Hyderabad. The trio, along with five others, were said to be standing close to the container when it exploded.
Five of the injured - Gajraj, Ram Singh, Mohammed Saddam, Pinto and Ram Jeevan - are being treated at Osmania General Hospital, while Lallu Yadav, Prasad Yadav and Rajiv Singh were admitted at Apollo Hospitals. Binay Singh and KK Singh are undergoing treatment at Owaisi Hospital. The condition of three of them is said to be critical.
The fire also caused severe property loss as it spread to other parts of the factory. It is learnt that the factory owners Sunil Kumar Sarma and Sanjith Kumar are absconding and police have launched a search.
District collector Girija Shankar, who rushed to the spot, said that action will be initiated against the duo if they were found to violating fire safety norms.
Meanwhile around 9.30 a.m., another major fire broke out in the godown of a chemical company, Bharat Inc, in Jeedimetla Industrical Area. Painting material such as methanol, also known as wood spirit, worth crores of rupees was gutted. However, as the factory was closed for Independence Day, no casualty was reported.
But the blaze, which is suspected to be caused by a short circuit, spread so rapidly that authorities had to press into service 10 fire tenders and 50 fire fighters and used more than 20 water tankers belonging to the Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWS&SB) to extinguish the flames.
The fire also spread to the factory which is situated beside the godown and caused an explosion in one of the five reactors there. “Soon after the flames engulfed the godown, one of the five reactors exploded and the reactor material fell on passing vehicles. We received information from the nearby residents around 9.45 a.m. and rushed to the spot along with two fire tenders from Jeedimetla and Sanathnagar,” said Prabhakar Swamy, district fire service officer, Ranga Reddy district.
Tension also gripped employees of Hetero Pharma and Mylan, known as Matrix pharma companies, which are located adjacent to the Bharath Inc. “While fighting the flames in Bharath Inc, we had a tough time preventing the flames from spreading to Hetero drugs and Mylan,” the fire officer said. Eight more fire tenders had to be rushed in from Air Force, Patancheru, BDL and other parts of the district to douse the flames.
“We suspect that as many as 500 tins of methanol and paint materials were kept in the godown. More than 30 chemical tins exploded. We also suspect that at least three reactors in the factory exploded,” Swamy said.
Luck stood by four families that stay in the godown. Due to the holiday, they had left for their native places and thus escaped the fire.
Meanwhile, police closed the main road stretch between Jeedimetla and Narsapur temporarily and diverted vehicles towards Narsapur via Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories. Residents near the godown were also evacuated as a precautionary measure with a foul smell pervading the area after the blaze.