Bokaro, Feb. 15: Liquid steel being carried at 1,300 degrees Celsius in a laddle spilled out from a height of 40 feet, scalding a labourer to death at the ingot mould factory of the Bokaro Steel Plant blast furnace.
Five others, including a deputy general manager and an assistant manager, have suffered more than 90 per cent burn injuries from the spillage, chief of communications, Bokaro Steel, Basant Kumar Thakur, said.
More than 10 motorcycles and scooters parked nearby were completely charred.
The accident took place as the laddle carrying more than 90 metric tonnes of liquid steel tilted after the steel rope gave in before it could be poured into a large container. Thirteen workers were at the site when the accident took place around 2.30 pm.
A high-level inquiry committee headed by general manager (mechanical) S.N.P. Singh has been constituted by the managing director, U.P. Singh. The mishap comes a day before the visit of steel secretary Manoranjan and Steel Authority of India Limited chairman V.S. Jain to the plant.
The labourer killed in the accident has been identified as K. Ansari. Among the injured are deputy general manager K. Murlidhar, assistant manager P.P. Gupta, crane operators Nirmal Mahto and S.C. Mandal and chargeman B. Prasad.
Plant sources said the liquid steel metal is carried from the blast furnace in laddles, each having a capacity of 80 to 100 metric tonnes. The hot liquid steel has a temperature ranging from 1,300 to 1,500 degrees Celsius.
Around 2.30 pm, when the workers were busy at their jobs, the left rope of the laddle snapped, causing the container to tilt. The hot liquid spilled out from a height of 40 feet, instantly killing Ansari who was standing on the ground. The heat generated was such that the DGM and the assistant manager, both sitting in their site offices, some 25 feet away, received serious burn injuries. They fainted instantly.
The sources said two other workers, Govind Sao and Qayum Ansari, jumped from a height of 20 feet as they could not bear the high temperature. Talking to The Telegraph at the hospital, Sao said such was the heat generated when the metal spilled that he could not bear it and jumped, pulling Ansari with him.
Siyaram Yadav, a labourer, said he heard the sound of the rope snapping and then saw the liquid spill. 'I saw the DGM and assistant manager lying unconscious. I took them in my arms and rushed them for medical aid,' he said.
Two fire brigades, which were standing hardly 50 metres away, did not reach the accident site even two hours after the accident, claimed a labourer.
Several union leaders blamed the management for the accident, alleging that no attention was being paid to maintenance to the years-old steel plant. 'More accidents could take place if maintenance is not taken care of,' said a union leader.