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Mittal's plant claims over 25 lives since takeover

Over 254 people have also been hurt in the Romanian plant ever since it was taken over by the tycoon in 2001.

india Updated: Jul 17, 2006 01:02 IST

Controversy surrounds a Romanian steel plant bought by tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, with a report on Sunday saying that scores of workers had died or were injured in accidents on the site.

Some 25 people have been killed and another 254 injured at the Galati plant in eastern Romania ever since it was bought in late 2001 by Mittal, said a report in The Sunday Telegraph.

Mittal's purchase of the plant caused controversy after disclosures that British Prime Minister Tony Blair had sent a letter to the Romanian government endorsing the bid after it had succeeded, just weeks after Mittal donated 125,000 pounds to the Labour Party, the report said, adding that Mittal had in 2005 donated two million pounds to the party.

In June, one worker died and three others were injured after being set ablaze at the Romanian plant's oxygen unit. The three survivors are still in critical condition, with more than 70 per cent burns.

There have been six fatalities at the plant so far in 2006, state safety inspectors said.

The company disputed the inspectors' death and injury figures, but admitted that over the same five-year period 17 employees had died from accidents and another 203 had suffered injuries.

It had sacked five managers in response to the most recent incident, which it blamed on "safety procedures not being applied".

A company spokeswoman said, "We take safety extremely seriously and leadership must be accountable for ensuring that employees follow the safety procedures set out at all times."