VIJAYAWADA: Four more people were killed in the blast at the chemical manufacturing unit in Eluru district taking the toll in the mishap to six. As many as 12 people have been injured. An explosion following a gas leak was reported at Porus Laboratories Private Limited at Akkireddygudem in Musunuru mandal late on Wednesday.
In a press release, AP Pollution Control Board chairman AK Parida issued orders to close the unit and disconnect power supply after observing that the accident took six lives and left many injured.It also caused environment damage in the form of emissions during the accident and generation of hazardous waste, the release read.
Five of the victims working at the unit were charred to death on the spot while another person succumbed to his injuries on the way to the New Government General Hospital (GGH) in Vijayawada.U Krishna (34) and B Kiran (32) of Akkireddygudem, and K Ravi Das (40), Manoj Mochi (25), Subash Ravi Das (32) and Abhudas Ravi Das (27), all natives of Bihar, have been identified as victims. The incident occurred around 10:55 pm when the gas used for manufacturing active pharmaceutical ingredients and other intermediates in the boiler unit leaked due to suspected malfunction and resulted in the explosion.
As many as 200 people work at the laboratory and 40 were on the night shift on Wednesday. Approximately 20 workers were at the Production Block-D when the reactor exploded, police and an eye-witnesses said. The injured were shifted to Vijayawada GGH. Later, 11 of them were moved to a private hospital in the city for better treatment.
“Four of the six who died and seven of the injured workers are from Bihar. The fatalities might go up as all the injured have suffered 30-50 per cent burns,’’ District Collector Prasanna Venkatesh said after visiting the hospital on Thursday.However, GGH doctors, who initially treated the injured, said some workers are in a critical condition as they suffered more than 70 per cent burns.
Tension prevailed at the unit as some villagers demanded action against the management. They claimed that the management’s negligence had resulted in air and water pollution in the area. This, they said was making their lives difficult and also affecting crop yield. They even tried to barge into the lab but were prevented by the police.
Speaking to TNIE, Venkatesh said, “Prima facie, the blast seems to have occurred because of a gas leak which induced high pressure. However, the exact reason will be ascertained only after an in-depth investigation. The issue will be looked into from all possible angles.”
The collector further informed that a joint collector (JC) has been appointed as the investigation officer to probe the incident. He said the investigation officer would verify if the laboratory had all the permissions and also probe allegations of water and air pollution.Venkatesh further asserted that all complaints filed against Porus Laboratories will be pursued and action will be taken accordingly once the JC submits the probe report.
Based on a complaint filed by Ch Rajiv, a native of Guntur who also suffered injuries, police have registered a case under IPC Sections 337 and 338 (causing hurt by act of endangering life or personal safety), and 304-II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder).
The State government and management have announced an ex gratia of Rs 25 lakh each to the bereaved families. The government will also give compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the severely injured and Rs 2 lakh for those who have suffered minor injuries. Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy expressed shock over the incident and directed the Eluru district collector and SP to conduct an in-depth inquiry into the blast.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “Pained by the loss of lives due to a mishap at a chemical unit in Eluru, Andhra Pradesh. Condolences to the bereaved families. May the injured recover quickly.”
Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu also tweeted that he was pained by the loss of lives in the mishap. “My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and prayers for the speedy recovery of the injured,” he said.Governor Biswa Bhusan Harichandan expressed anguish over the deaths in the Akkireddygudem chemical factory blast and conveyed condolences to the bereaved families.
Explosion leaves 12 injured
An in-depth probe has been ordered, district collector said
JC will lead the investigation & probe allegations of pollution too
As many as 40 workers were on night duty, 20 near boiler unit
Firm to pay bills and salaries of injured till they are in the hospital