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Home / West-bengal / Three dead, 44 injured in fire at IOC's Haldia refinery

Three dead, 44 injured in fire at IOC's Haldia refinery

A source said the fire started around 2.50 pm when sparks from a welding operation landed on inflammable material being used for the job, causing an explosion
An Indian Oil Corporation tower that caught fire  in Haldia on Tuesday
An Indian Oil Corporation tower that caught fire in Haldia on Tuesday
The Telegraph Picture

Anshuman Phadikar   |   Haldia   |   Published 22.12.21, 02:24 AM

Three persons died and 44 were injured, many of them critically, when a fire broke out at a unit of the Indian Oil Corporation’s refinery in Haldia on Tuesday afternoon.

The flash fire was reported at the under-maintenance motor spirit quality (MSQ) unit shortly after a safety drill for employees and contractual workers in the area.

An IOC source said the fire started around 2.50pm when sparks from a welding operation landed on inflammable material being used for the job, causing an explosion. One of the cylinders brought for welding appeared to have exploded, the source added.

The three men who died were contract workers who are yet to be identified. 

District police chief Amarnath K said: “There was a flash fire at the IOC refinery in which three persons have been killed and 44 injured. A green corridor was subsequently ensured for the transportation of the injured to two private hospitals in Calcutta.”

Seventeen of the injured were admitted to Desun Hospital. “The patients are middle aged and the burn injuries are all over the body, including the face,” said Tapas Mukherjee, deputy managing director of the hospital. 

Several others are being treated at the Haldia Oil Refinery Hospital.

Sarbari Jana, senior human resource officer, Haldia Refinery, said in a statement: “Haldia Refinery is undertaking shutdown and maintenance of various major units. In the MSQ unit, during shutdown-related work, at around 1450 hrs today, an incident occurred.”

The statement added: “The primary cause seems to be a flash fire leading to burn injuries to 44 persons and 3 persons have unfortunately succumbed to their injuries. The fire has been immediately extinguished and the situation is under control.”

It took about 30 minutes to bring the fire under control.

Employees of the IOC refinery accused the authorities and district disaster management officials of responding late and said there was delay in transporting the critically injured to hospitals in Calcutta.

An official of the district disaster management department said many members were at the safety drill and had returned to their respective reporting stations, which contributed to the delay in responding to the accident.

“The turnaround took some time as we were at the refinery all morning. Nonetheless, our ambulances and volunteers responded and helped victims to their best capacity,” said district disaster management official Mrityunjay Haldar.

Refinery officials said an investigation committee had been set up to probe the fire.

Manash Khara, 26, a contractual labourer from Haldia’s Brajlal Chowk who is admitted to the refinery hospital with 20 per cent burns, said: “The rescue effort and medical response should have been quicker.”

The blaze comes three months after a similar incident at Haldia Petrochemicals when its naptha cracker unit had caught fire for the second month in a row. Thirteen persons had been injured in the September accident.

Tapas Maity, a leader of Trinamul’s trade union, said rather than the IOC, they were the first to reach the site with ambulances.

“I had to arrange most of the critical ambulances myself,” he said, adding that the union had also made arrangements for the victims to be admitted to “private hospitals” in Calcutta.

Speaking from New Delhi, Tamluk MP Dibyendu Adhikari said he had taken up the incident with the IOC chairman and a probe team would reach Haldia on Wednesday.
Additional reporting by Kinsuk Basu in Calcutta



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