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Gas pipeline blast kills 4

An injured in the hospital. Picture by Avik Chakraborty

Sivasagar, Sept. 1: Four persons, including a pregnant woman, were killed while six others were injured in an explosion at an Assam Gas Company Limited (AGCL) pipeline at Hingrijan near Moran in Sivasagar district in the wee hours today.

Jyoti Sabar, 25, who was eight months pregnant, died while Michael Sabar, 32, Bhashan Sharma, 35, and his wife Parek, 30, succumbed to the burn injuries after they were admitted to the Assam Medical College and Hospital (AMCH) in Dibrugarh, official sources said.

The area remained tense this morning. Police tried to control the angry mob. Residents said they woke up to a deafening sound. “I thought it was an earthquake as the whole area shook,” said Ratan Barak, a resident of Hingrijan.

At least eight houses in the locality were gutted in the blast that occurred around 3.30am, residents said. They said paddy fields, trees and bamboo groves within a diameter of 100 metres from the explosion site were reduced to ashes.

Among those injured and undergoing treatment at the AMCH are Akash Sharma, 7 and Hemanta Sharma, 9. They are the sons of the deceased couple. Durga Barak, 40, his wife Sureya, 40, their daughter Marina, 26 and Hemkanta Kaul, 35, were the others injured in the incident.

Sivasagar additional superintendent of police (security) Debasish Sharma said the situation was under control and investigation was on to ascertain the cause of the blast. He ruled out any kind of sabotage and termed it an accident.

“Going by the preliminary inquiry, the incident was an accident. We are conducting a further inquiry about the cause of the blast,” he said.

Officials of AGCL, which owns the gas pipeline, said the cause of the explosion was yet to be ascertained.

“We have sent a team of officials to conduct an inquiry into the incident,” A.K. Sharma, deputy general manager (finance) of AGCL, said.

“The blaze was controlled within an hour by fire tenders from Oil India Limited. Gas supply through the pipeline was disconnected immediately after the explosion,” Sharma said.

Oil India provides crude to AGCL. The low pressure gas pipeline distributes gas to the tea factories in Moran area. Company officials said the pipeline is 300mm in diameter and runs 53km from Moran to Namrup.

Sharma said compensation to the deceased and injured would be provided according to the company norms.

Top officials of the district administration and senior Oil India Limited officials visited the spot and took stock of the situation. “The district administration has provided a one-time assistance of Rs 10,000 to the kin of the deceased and Rs 5,000 to the injured.AGCL officials are yet to ascertain the losses caused by the blast to the company.

“As of now, we are not in a position to ascertain the losses as we are engaged in rehabilitation and relief work. But we should be able to restore the pipeline soon,” an official said.