In India’s second major industrial chimney crash in nine months, a newly constructed smoke vent at the Paricha thermal power plant in Jhansi collapsed on Monday — trapping over 40 workers.
A chimney had collapsed in September last year at the Balco Plant in Chhattisgarh’s Korba district, claiming 41 lives.
Monday’s accident was caused by severe noon thunderstorms that lashed the city, 200 km west of Kanpur, according to initial reports.
Most of the workers were having lunch, while some were working inside the plant when the 120-metre high chimney suddenly fell on them.
“As the strong winds began to blow the chimney went down, kicking up dust clouds enveloping the whole plant and adjoining areas,” eyewitnesses said.
Officials rushed to the site immediately. But rescue work began nearly four hours after the collapse.
“At this time, it is difficult to ascertain the exact number of casualties, if any, or the number of labourers trapped in the debris. We are trying to clear the debris and rescue the labourers,” District Magistrate Raj Shekhar said.
The chimney was a recently constructed for two units by National Building Construction Corporation. Work was in its final phase and workers were assigned to complete electrical fittings.
Chief Minister Mayawati said the quality of the work was not according to norms. She said her government would write to the Centre to initiate action against the construction agency.