At least 12 workers were injured, two of them seriously, when a gas container exploded and caught fire at the Tata Steel plant here on Thursday afternoon.
The incident came a day after an explosion in a steel plant in Odisha’s Dhenkanal district which killed one worker and injured while 15 others. The explosion occured in the blast furnace of the plant located at Narendrapur, about 150 km west of Bhubaneswar.
Most of the injuries in the Tata plant explosion were from flying debris which turned to deadly projectiles when the ‘LD Gas holder’ exploded with a deafening sound at around 3 pm.
All the injured were rushed to the emergency ward of Tata Main Hospital. Two of the seriously injured – identified as BN Sikdar and Md Wasim -- were later shifted to the intensive care unit.
The steel major – from which Jamshedpur got its name Tatanagar – produces 6.8 million tonnes of steel from the city plant.
The explosion sparked a fire in the adjoining gas pipeline. Six fire tenders were rushed to douse the flames, inspector of factories AK Mishra said.
Tata Steel spokesman Prabhat Sharma said both the fire as well as gas emission were under control and there were no reports of any casualty.
Though Tata Steel authorities are yet to give an “official” cause for the explosion, one plant worker said on condition of anonymity that “the concentration of gas had shot up to 550 ppm (parts per million) which is abnormally high. Why that happened I have no idea.”
Some workers said that the gas was toxic but the claim could not be corroborated from company officials, who played down the incident as “minor”.
“The 150-tonne capacity LD Gas holder exploded with a deafening sound, blowing off the top lid which broke through the shed’s roof,” said an eye-witness, B Mishra, who was around 150 meters from the spot.
Another worker Dinesh Chauhan, who was standing on a platform two storeys above the gas-holder, was thrown off his feet by a “gush of air” when the container exploded. Chauhan was among those who were taken to the hospital.
The magnitude of the explosion could be gauged from the fact that residents of Golmuri locality, where the plant is locate, took it for an earthquake.
“Ten people have been admitted to the emergency ward and two criticalluy injured are being attended to in the CCU. The victims are being checked for carbon monoxide inhalation,” said TP Madhusudanan, general manager of the hospital.
The condition of the other ten was said to be stable. “We have checked all vital parameters and they all look fine,” said Dr Manoj Singh who was attending to the injured.