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Paradip plant roof caves in, 23 injured

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Paradip, Feb. 20: At least 23 workers were injured, 11 of them seriously, when the roof of a di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) storage tower caved in today at the Iffco fertiliser plant here.

While most of the injured have been admitted to local hospitals, 10 are being treated at a private nursing home in Cuttack. The mishap, which triggered tension in the area with relatives of the injured pelting the company officials with stones, has raised question over the security mechanism at the plant.

Plant authorities have announced closure of the unit for two days to clear debris from the accident site. Sources said relatives of the injured started throwing stones after being denied entry to the accident site.

While Iffco would get the matter investigated by an independent team of technical experts, the directorate of factories and boilers would inquire into the plant’s safety aspect, said Jagatsinghpur collector Narayan Chandra Jena.

“Initially, we thought an earthquake had hit the plant. I was trapped in the debris and fell unconscious for sometime,” said Dhanswar Swain, a survivor.

The storage facility caved in at about 10.15am. There were not many workers at the site when the accident took place as the majority had gone out for breakfast. Over 20 workers were trapped inside the structure made of steel sheets and asbestos. “It was in good condition and was being subjected to periodic maintenance and repair,” said V.B. Suri, vice-president (personnel), Iffco in Paradip.

Executive director of the plant M.R. Patel said the rescue operation had come to an end and there were no casualties. He attributed the accident to the rapid corrosion at the site because of its proximity to the sea. The company would bear the treatment cost of the injured.

Most of the workers’ unions active in the plant area have attributed the mishap to human error and lack of maintenance of the structure.

Ullash Swain, general secretary of the Paradip Industrial Workers’ Union, said: “Iffco authorities have jeopardised the safety of poor workers. The storage structure was dilapidated and poorly maintained. Nothing was done to renovate it after Iffco took over the plant.”


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