Pharma unit in Visakhapatnam turns to ashes in major explosion

Published: 31st May 2013 10:59 AM  |   Last Updated: 31st May 2013 04:23 PM   |  A+A-

In yet another major blast involving a pharmaceutical company, an explosion in sodium containers triggered a series of blasts at the Glochem Pharma company, turning the entire factory to ashes at Jawaharlal Nehru Pharma City in Parawada, 60 km from Visakhapatnam on Thursday. While the workers’ union leaders fear that at least two persons were caught in the mishap, the officials stated that nothing can be ascertained until the fire is brought under control. Two persons, including a female HR employee, were injured in the incident and were rushed to the city for treatment. Both were found by the workers in an unconscious condition.

The incident unfolded at around 4.30 pm with an explosion suspected to have occurred in one of the sodium containers stored near the store room. Within minutes, fire spread to all the five blocks in the premises, and three floors of the four-storeyed building which housed the reactors turned to rubble following a series of blasts caused due to explosion of sodium containers. Sources in the factory affirmed that there were no deaths and most of the employees were outside the building. “Those who were inside the building rushed out, alarmed by the deafening sound of explosions in the chemical containers,” said the officials in the factory.

About eight fire engines were pressed into service to bring the fire under control but in vain. Instead, the fire personnel are learnt to have backed out after fighting the fire for a couple of hours, as water reacted with the chemicals like sodium and developed into a blazing inferno. Even after fighting the fire for over five hours, it could not be brought under control when the last reports came in.

Meanwhile, panic spread in villages of Parawada, Tanam, Tadi, Lankelapalem, Boddapuvanipalem, E Bonangi, Gorlavanipalem and up to Steel Plant township due to deafening explosions and spreading of smoke to a range of 5 km along with a pungent smell of chemicals. Many people rushed out of their homes and later, started vacating their houses to run for safety. The police officials have restricted the movement of people at about 1 km away from the fire mishap site. Sources said that the fire spread fast inside the chemical factory as winds blew at a speed of about 40-50 kmph towards Tadi direction due to rainy climatic conditions.

The union leaders and villagers told media persons, that the factory did not have proper fire-fighting equipment to fight such massive mishaps. Power supply was cut-off in Tadi, Tanam and Parawada as a precautionary measure.

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