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Vizag HPCL refinery blast toll rises to 10
August 25, 2013
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HYDERABAD: The death toll in the major fire that broke on Friday in the state-owned Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) refinery in Andhra Pradesh’s coastal city of Visakhapatnam rose to 10, police said on Saturday.

Six charred bodies were recovered from the mishap site on Saturday, taking the toll to 10.

Two bodies were found on Friday night while two injured succumbed at a hospital.

As many as 34 people are under treatment in different hospitals and the condition of six of them is stated to be critical.

Personnel from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) joined the search operation at the mishap site, the diesel hydro sulphurisation expansion project.

The fire broke out after a major blast in an under-construction cooling tower in the state-owned HPCL refinery on Friday evening.

About a dozen fire engines controlled the fire, not allowing it to spread to other parts of the refinery.

Authorities have opened a control room at the district collectorate.

Relatives of the missing workers staged a protest on Saturday at the main entrance of the refinery.

About 4,000 employees of the refinery were boycotting their duties on Saturday to demand proper safety measures at the refinery.

Union Minister of State for Petroleum Pannabaka Lakshmi visited the refinery and spoke to the officials about the disaster.

She later told reporters that a high-level probe was already ordered into the mishap.

Relatives of the victims and other workers staged a protest during her visit and demanded compensation.

They complained that the officials were not giving them information.

Union Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moily was likely to visit the HPCL refinery later on Saturday.

A reactor blast at Nagarjuna Agrichem near Srikakulam last year forced the panic-stricken villagers from the neighbourhood to flee to distant places.

A review meeting held by Director-General of Fire Safety N. Sambasiva Rao revealed sometime ago that most of the chemical units in north Andhra were functioning without obtaining “no-objection certificate.”

Lack of manpower in the AP Pollution Control Board, Inspectorate of Factories and other agencies is also stated to be one of the reasons for not enforcing safety and pollution control measures.

Press Trust of India

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