As the massive blaze at the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) depot in Jaipur continued on Friday, the toll stood at five dead including one IOC employee — and over 130 injured. The administration focused on containing the spread of flames that is expected to continue for some days.
Rajasthan Home Secretary Pradeep Sen said the body of an IOC employee had been recovered. IOC chairman and managing director Sarthak Behuria said that the six IOC employees missing since Thursday are feared dead.
Of the injured, 34 people are still admitted in hospitals while others had been discharged.
Union Petroleum Minister Murli Deora announced the formation of a seven-member panel headed by Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd former chairman M.B. Lal to probe the causes of the fire.
But questions are being raised about the manner in which the IOC officials handled the situation after the fire broke out.
Preliminary reports said it was caused by a leakage in one of the pipelines in the depot located in the Sitapura Industrial Area, about 20 km from the city. Fire department officials said the inferno would continue till all the fuel had been burnt.
Factory workers in Sitapura said the leakage started at around 4.30 pm, but IOC officials failed to inform the police in time. But IOC Rajasthan general manager Gautam Bose said he informed the food and civil supplies secretary within 30 minutes of the fire breaking out.
Inspector General (Jaipur Range I) B.L. Soni said IOC officials did not tell them about the spillage. “Had the police not raised an alarm and asked the facility to be evacuated, the toll could have been higher.”
“The Jaipur terminal had 50,000 kilolitres of petrol, diesel and kerosene in stock. All petroleum product storage tanks are on fire,” Behuria said.
“The product value loss is estimated at around Rs 148 crore,” Behuria told Hindustan Times. “It will take at least 18-20 months and between Rs 150 crore and Rs 200 crore to construct a terminal of that size.”
Behuria ruled out a supply shortage in Jaipur. Alternate supply arrangements from IOC depots at Bharatpur, Jodhpur, Ajmer and Chittorgarh had been made, he said.