A day after 11 people died in an explosion in a state-owned steel plant in the coastal city of Visakhapatnam, workers blamed the management of negligence and boycotted work as a mark of protest.
This is the second major accident in the steel plant in the last two months. On May 1, two people died in an explosion at the recently commissioned blast furnace-III.
“The management was in a great hurry to commission the new plant as part of the expansion plant and the result is for everyone to see,” said Indian National Trade Union Congress leader G Venkat Rao.
The explosion took place in the second unit of the steel melting shop of the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant around 9pm on Wednesday.
Around 25 people — including contract staff and consultants — were conducting a trial run of the newly commissioned oxygen plant in the unit when the explosion took place. Employees of the Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL), which operates the plant, were also present.
Eight employees including two senior management members were charred to death on the spot, whereas three others succumbed to burn injuries at a hospital later.
Ten workers, including general manager V Kalsi, have suffered 90% burns and their condition is critical, officials said. The oxygen plant and nearby facilities were completely destroyed in the fire, officials said.
The Andhra Pradesh government on Thursday ordered an inquiry to ascertain the cause of the explosion.
Chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy expressed “shock and anguish” over the incident and directed the labour department to conduct the probe expeditiously and submit a report.
This is said to be the worst disaster in the 40-year-long history of RINL.