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LUCKNOW: At least 18 people were killed and over 100 injured following a blast in a boiler pipe at NTPC Unchahar power plant in Raebareli district, 110 km from Lucknow, on Wednesday evening. The toll could rise further once the blades of the damaged boiler are removed as many labourers are feared trapped inside. Government sources said that most of the injured have suffered more than 70 per cent injury which could further add to the toll.
While NTPC has set up an inquiry to investigate the reasons for the accident, ADG (Lucknow zone) Abhay Prasad said that a case of negligence could be filed after rescue operation ends. State government has announced an ex gratia of Rs 2 lakh for the deceased.
According to reports, a large number of NTPC workers, apart from some of the senior officials and engineers, were working at a 500 MW power unit when the boiler pipe exploded. The unit was installed recently at the 1,550 MW NTPC plant and functioning normally till Wednesday afternoon. The blast was reportedly triggered in the duct connected to the boiler which is used for transferring ash of burnt coal. It is believed that the ash pipe got choked, leading to the blast.
According to ADG (law and order) Anand Kumar, 22 severely burnt labourers were rushed to various Lucknow hospitals where emergency arrangement had been put in place, for further treatment. NTPC confirmed that three of its senior officials of assistant general manager rank received grievous injuries and were being treated at a private hospital in Lucknow. They may be shifted to Delhi by air ambulance.
Similarly, 15 of the injured were being treated at Rae Bareli district hospital while some of them were also sent to Allahabad, as per NTPC sources. The remaining with minor injuries were under medical supervision at NTPC hospital on the campus. District magistrate (Raebareli) Sanjay Kumar Khatri said that 40 ambulances were immediately pressed into service after the blast. Chief medical officer (Raebareli) DK Singh and 10 doctors were deployed on the NTPC campus for immediate treatment to the injured
Expressing grief over the tragedy, PM Narendra Modi tweeted: “Deeply pained by the accident at the NTPC plant in Rae Bareli. My thoughts are with the bereaved families. May the injured recover quickly. The situation is being closely monitored and officials are ensuring normalcy is restored.”
“CMD NTPC has been directed to proceed to the site immediately and ensure immediate relief to all affected,” power and new and renewable energy minister Raj Kumar Singh said in a tweet.
UP chief minister Aditya Nath Yogi, who is in Mauritius for an investment summit, announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh for the families of the workers who died in the incident and Rs 50,000 to the severely injured. He also directed officials of the home department to rush to the site.
Principal secretary, home, Arvind Kumar, along with senior officials of the police department were camping at the plant till late in the evening. Cabinet ministers Suresh Khanna and Nandgopal Nandi too had rushed to the accident site by late evening. A 32-member fully equipped contingent of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) had also reached the accident site to join the rescue operations.