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HindustanTimes Sun,23 Nov 2014

Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway accident: Rescue work delayed as offcials unware of tanker contents

Puja Changoiwala, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, January 29, 2014
First Published: 22:21 IST(29/1/2014) | Last Updated: 22:25 IST(29/1/2014)

Unaware of the content of the fuel tanker, rescue work became even tedious for fire officials who arrived at the accident spot on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway following the collision between the tanker and luxury bus on early on Wednesday. The blaze aggravated when officials, unaware that it contained diesel, used water to douse it. Senior officials with the highway traffic police said that in the aftermath of this mishap, they plan to write to oil companies to have a rescue team ready at all hours so that immediate assistance is provided.
 
According to officials at the Manor police station, after the accident was reported to the police control around 1.45 am, two fire engines and four water tankers were rushed to the spot. They used water to douse the flame; however, the fire became more aggressive.
 
“We did not know what the tanker contained. The immediate response to fire is using water, but the flames got bigger and posed a threat to our lives as well. We contacted the Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) to know the tanker’s content, however, we could not get much help as their office was closed,” said an official from the Manor police who did not wish to be named.
 
Officials said that this delayed the rescue work by at least 30 minutes. When the flames calmed a little, a police official read the chemical formula at the base of the tanker’s rear part and ascertained that it was diesel.
 
“We were lucky that one of our personnel knew that the formula ‘C12H23’ stood for diesel. Now, since diesel is a hydrocarbon fuel, it had to be doused using fire-fighting foams. It was then that the fire brigade officials used foams to douse the fire,” said the official.
 
Officials said that being unaware of the tanker’s content, the rescue work became even risky because if fire officers had continued to douse the blaze with water, it could have led to a blast and would have engulfed everyone present at the spot, including the 14 rescued victims and the over 50 police and fire personnel present at the spot.
 
“There was no way to ascertain the tanker’s content as it’s driver, who probably knew what the tanker contained, was also missing,” said the official.
 
In the aftermath of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway accident that has claimed eight lives and left 14 injured, senior highway traffic police officials have decided to issue a letter to oil companies so that instances likes these, if reported again, can be ably dealt with.
 
“We will write to the companies asking them to have a rescue team stationed at different places at all hours so that they can rush to the accident spot immediately and provide the requisite assistance. In this case, the BPCL officials arrived at the spot only around 8 am (on Wednesday),” said a senior official who did not wish to be named.


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