Eighteen workers of an agrochemical company were injured in a fire following an explosion at the plant in Andhra Pradesh's Srikakulam district on Saturday morning, police said.
Fire broke out at Nagarjuna Agrichem Limited following an explosion in a chemical reactor in the fifth block of the plant, which produces agrochemicals.
The plant is located at Chilkapalem in the Srikakulam district of north coastal Andhra, about 700 km from Hyderabad.
Srikakulam district collector Vankatrami Reddy said 15 of the injured were shifted to the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) at Srikakulam while three critically injured were taken to Visakhapatnam.
About 200 employees were reportedly working at the plant at the time of the incident. The workers ran in panic after the chemical reactor exploded. Company officials said the fire broke out during tea break which saved many lives.
Dense black smoke engulfed the entire area including nearby villages and the national highway. Some villages were evacuated as a precautionary measure.
Fire tenders from neighbouring districts rushed to the scene and prevented the flames from spreading to other blocks.
This is the second major industrial disaster in the region this month. Eighteen people were killed in a fire in Visakhapatnam Steel Plant at Visakhapatnam June 13.