At least 20 workers and an engineer were killed when a 100-metre chimney caved in at an under-construction thermal power plant in the industrial town of Korba, Chhattisgarh, on Wednesday afternoon.
There could be many more workers buried under the debris, police said.
The chimney at the 1200-MW power plant of the Vedanta group’s Bharat Aluminium Company Limited (Balco), about 220 km north-east of Raipur, collapsed on Wednesday afternoon at about 4.30 pm.
Fifteen injured labourers were rushed to the hospital while efforts were on to clear the debris. Several cranes, ambulances and fire brigades were pressed into service for the rescue operations.
“It is difficult to give the casualty figure as rescue operations are still on. The bodies of 20 workers have been removed from beneath the debris so far,” Korba District Collector Ashok Agrawal told Hindustan Times.
According to information reaching the state capital, over 150 labourers and engineers were on duty when the incident occurred.
The height originally proposed for the chimney structure was 275 metres. It collapsed when construction had been completed till 100 metres, Balco spokesperson BK Srivastav said.
Chinese firm ‘SEPCO’ was given the contract by Balco for the construction work who in turn allotted it to Gannon Dunkerley and Company Limited.
“There was heavy rain and lightning when the incident occurred,” he said.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh has ordered a judicial probe into the incident.
Singh has asked the Korba administration to lodge a first information report against Balco and announced financial relief of Rs 1 lakh to every family bereaved.