At least 20 people lost their lives and 70 others were critically injured when a blast took place at National Thermal Power Corporation’s (NTPC) thermal power plant at Unchahar in Raebareli this evening.
According to reports, the unfortunate incident happened after the steam pipe of the boiler plant burst open. The number of casualties is expected to go up, a local administration official involved in the rescue operation said.
"Eighteen deaths have been confirmed by the district administration. Twenty two persons with severe burns have been referred to Lucknow. Another 15 are in Rae Bareli hospital," UP's ADG (Law and Order) Anand Kumar said.
Meanwhile, the Chief Minister’s Office has taken cognizance of the incident and directed Principal Secretary Home to ensure all steps for rescue and relief.
The CM's office added that the state government will bear the expenses of treatment at the SGPGI. The government also announced Rs 2 lakh compensation for the family of those workers who have died and Rs 50,000 for the grievously injured and Rs 25,000 for other injured workers.
SP Shivhari Meena said that according to initial reports "50-60 persons suffered injuries". Meena added that relief and rescue operations were launched immediately and the injured were being rushed to nearby hospitals.
"The Chief Minister has taken cognisance of the Unchahar accident and has directed principal secretary (home) to ensure that all steps are taken for rescue and relief," Principal Secretary (Information) Awanish Awasthi said.
CM Yogi Adityanath is accompanying is on a three-day official visit to Mauritius.
In a statement, the NTPC said that at around 1530 hrs at unit number six of its Unchahar plant, there was a sudden abnormal sound at 20 meters elevation.
"Rescue operations are underway in close coordination with district administration. Injured persons are being shifted to the nearby hospitals," it said.
NTPC orders an enquiry
A National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team was also despatched to the explosion site from the state capital for relief and rescue operations, an official said.
PM Modi expresses grief
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was "deeply pained" by the accident, adding that the situation was being closely monitored.
"Deeply pained by the accident at the NTPC plant in Raebareli. My thoughts are with the bereaved families. May the injured recover quickly. The situation is being closely monitored & officials are ensuring normalcy is restored: PM @narendramodi," the PM's office tweeted.
Union Power Minister RK Singh, through social media posts, expressed deep anguish at the loss of lives and said that he had directed the NTPC Chairman and Managing Director Gurdeep Singh to rush to the site.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi has also expressed grief over loss of lives in the tragedy. Rahul, who is in Gujarat, will tomorrow visit the city to tkae first hand stock of the situation.
रायबरेली NTPC प्लांट की घटना से मन विचलित है। मेरी संवेदनाएं मृतकों के परिवार के साथ हैं। प्रशासन से आग्रह है घायलों को तत्काल मदद दी जाए।— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) November 1, 2017
The plant, which started generating power in 1988, has five power generating units of 210 MW each.
An injured employee undergoing treatment at a hospital said that a sudden gush of hot gas with contents of ash-like material engulfed him at the NTPC plant.
The man said he was unable to understand what had happened and found himself on a hospital bed with his body scalded all over, when he regained consciousness.
The plant area was cordoned off by the police to facilitate smooth running of ambulances.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi expressed shock and horror at the "terrible tragedy" in her Lok Sabha constituency Raebareli. Conveying her deepest condolences to the families of the bereaved, Gandhi urged upon the authorities to provide immediate medical assistance to the injured.