Mehsana/Ahmedabad, Sept 4 : Six people were killed and 22 others received serious burn injuries when a huge explosion rocked the Dudhsagar Dairy at Mehsana in Gujarat on Saturday at 1.30pm.The blast resulted in a huge fire and caused massive damage to the milk processing unit.
Dudhsagar is the second largest dairy cooperative in Gujarat and one of India's biggest, known for its brand Sagar with an annual turnover of Rs 2,200 crore.Authorities fear that death toll may go up as many of the victims have received serious burn injuries and there may be people trapped in the rubble.
Sources said the dairy's management has been seriously hit as two senior managers , heading the production and quality control departments, are badly injured. Another two managers, heading the engineering and purchase departments, are missing since the accident, The Times of India reported.
Officials initially said a spark in one of the boilers had led to the accident. However , senior government officers involved in the recue operation said the intensity was not that of the boiler blast. There was a possibility that ammonia kept in one of the storage facilities had caught fire resulting in the accident. All the victims were working close to the blast site.
Additional collector R K Patel said, "Five bodies were brought for post mortem while 16 injured have been admitted to different hospitals in Mehsana. Another six critical cases have been referred to Ahmedabad . A large quantity of butter, ghee and milk powder was gutted in the fire.
"I have not heard of an incident of this magnitude in 30 years," said Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation's (GCMMF) managing director R S Sodhi. Mother Dairy, Gandhinagar and neighouring Banas Dairy are helping out to ensure milk supply is not hit. "From both places, we will ensure that supply is regular in the region," Sodhi said.
Shops and homes within one km of the plant were shaken by the intensity of the blast. Dharmedra Patel, who owns a shop near the plant said, "My shop is 800 metres from the explosion site. Everything started shaking in the blast. I thought terrorists had attacked the town. When I came out of the shop I saw the milk plant in flames."
The mishap will hit the milk supply via train to Delhi, Jaipur and other places in north India. It will take at least 10 days to restore operations back to normal.