Two persons were killed and four others severely injured when a major fire broke out on Saturday at the Hetero Drugs Limited (HDL) in the special economic zone in N.Narsapuram village in Nakkapalli mandal in Visakhapatnam. The injured were rushed for treatment to Visakhapatnam, which is 85 km from the spot, and their condition is said to be critical.
According to information reaching here, the chemical reactor at the plant exploded at about 5.30 p.m due to reasons yet to be ascertained. Two persons - B Jayadheer Rao and K Tirupati - died on the spot. Around eight more workers, including three contract workers, received injuries. All of them were first shifted to the Anakapalle government hospital and later, four of the more critically injured were shifted to a private hospital in Visakhapatnam. These four were identified as G Venkat Rao, KV Papa Rao, Chintala Devudu and Naveen.
The HDL and the Hetero Labs Limited (HLL), which is also located in the same premises, are engaged in manufacturing medicines against HIV/AIDS.
There are about 800 employees working in both companies. According to the employees, about 50 people were working at the site at the time of the blast. When the reactor exploded, hundreds of employees ran for cover. People living in surrounding areas also panicked and fled from their homes following rumours that the explosion had poisoned the air in the locality.
The police and fire personnel rushed to the factory to fight the blaze. Police officials as well as the company management did not confirm the exact number of casualties. It was Visakhapatnam superintendent of police G Srinivas who told Express that they had received information of two people being killed.
Collector V Sheshadri and other district authorities rushed to the accident spot to inquire about the incident. Later, they informed chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy who directed the officials to conduct a detailed inquiry into the mishap and submit a report. Minister for investments and infrastructure Ganta Srinivasa Rao is also keeping close watch on the situation.