| Residents show the expired LPG cylinder to a team of district officials at Dehri-on-Sone in Rohtas on Sunday. Picture by Sanjay Choudhary |
Four children died and 15 others suffered serious burn injuries this morning in a fire sparked by leakage of liquid petroleum gas from a defective cylinder kept outside a house at the New Area locality in Dehri-on-Sone, about 165km southwest from here.
The deceased have been identified as Sunaina (5), Sunita (6), Rani Kumari (10) and Aayushi (3). The injured have been admitted to a Varanasi hospital for treatment. The condition of two of the victims — Ram Vilas Sao (60) and Santosh Kumar (20) — is critical. Barring minor injuries to a kid, nobody of the house to which the faulty LPG cylinder was supplied yesterday was hurt.
A source said the fire broke out in the New Area locality of the sub-divisional town in Rohtas district around 8am following leakage in an LPG cylinder in the house of one Santosh Kumar (not the one critical). Sparks from an electric pole is believed to have stoked the fire. The gas has been leaking from the cylinder since yesterday, he said.
Eyewitnesses said Santosh had complained to the office of RD Indane, the agency that had supplied the cylinder yesterday, but its officials did not take the matter seriously. As the gas was leaking from the cylinder continuously, Santosh kept the cylinder outside his house.
The gas spread in the entire locality and a fire broke out following sparks from an electric pole beside a 10ft road. All those passing through the road and standing nearby suffered burn injuries, triggering panic. Two fire tenders were pressed into service to douse the flames, a resident of the area said.
A team of district police and administrative officials led by Dehri sub-divisional officer Khursheed Anwar Siddiqui reached the spot later. The officials made arrangements for ambulances, in which the injured persons were taken to a local private hospital. They were later shifted to Varanasi.
Station house officer of Dehri police station Sidheshwar Raj said a complaint has been lodged against the gas agency on the basis of the statement of the victims. Circle inspector of Dehri R.B. Mahto told The Telegraph that action would be initiated against the gas dealer for the negligence, which led to the incident.
Senior area manager of Indane (Indian Oil Corporation) T. Dutta said a probe would be conducted to find out under what circumstances a cylinder, which surpassed its expiry date, was supplied to a consumer. Ara-based bottling plant (area) manager N. Konark put the onus on the dealer and said it was his/her responsibility to ensure that no LPG bottle surpassing the expiry date was supplied to consumers.
Pawan Kumar, the sales officer of Indane (Gaya), said the firm would try to provide relief to the victims.
The co-motorman of the engine of Ranchi-Patna Patliputra Express was injured today when a fire broke out in the locomotive at the outer signal of Kiul station, reports PTI. He was injured when the fire extinguisher burst while he was dousing flames in the engine. Stationmaster of Kiul Alakh Narayan Gaur said passengers were safe but rail traffic was disrupted for two hours.