A major fire occurred at the Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited, (HPCL) Visakha Refinery at Malkapuram on Thursday night.
Sources said the blast took place at the Crude Oil Distillary Unit 3 (CDU3), due to a spark that ignited the fuel.
However, no casualties have been reported and the flames have been brought under control, preventing a major disaster.
Though the reasons behind the fire have not yet been ascertained, officials and workers suspect a short circuit had caused the accident. The crude oil unit had caught fire and was swallowed in raging flames that spread to the pipelines.
Nearly 10 fire tenders from the Navy, Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP), Coromandel Fertilisers and a large number of fire personnel from HPCL that jumped into action immediately have brought the flames under control using foam.
Police officials on the refinery premises stated that the prompt response of the workers and fire tenders alike had prevented the fire from spreading to other units containing highly volatile substances, which could have proved disastrous.
Following the blast, power supply to the entire Malkapuram area has been cut off to prevent any short circuit within HPCL, which might have caused further damage.
Meanwhile tension prevailed in Malkapuram area after scores of citizens, fuelled by rumours of the whole place about to blow up, grabbed whatever belongings they could and poured into the streets in a mad race to escape the area. Several families have taken to the streets fleeing the place despite police personnel deployed in the area announcing that the flames are under control and that the residents need not fear.
The accident on Thursday night is the second of its kind since the horrific blast that jolted the city on the morning of September 14, 1997. The second blow-up follows despite the stringent and fail-proof safety systems of international standards that have been put in place after the 1997 blast that claimed 60 lives and caused damage worth crores of rupees.