Four people, including a farmer, were killed and 17 others injured in a powerful blast that ripped apart the building of a cold store at Dhuri town of Sangrur district on Friday.
The blast that took place at Guru Nanak cold store, owned by Harinder Singh of Kaheru village, at around 11 am, was so powerful that the building was reduced to rubble within no time, leaving around 20 labourers trapped, who were busy piling up the stock of potatoes kept inside the store.
During a rescue operation carried out by the personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the district administration, four bodies were recovered from the debris later.
The deceased were identified as Paramjeet Singh, Karamjeet Singh and Rajan, all labourers, and a farmer, Gurmeet Singh of Ludhiana, who had come to the store to deliver potatoes. A residential house sharing a wall with the cold store was also damaged, leaving one of the family members injured.
The rescue team had a tough time extracting those trapped under the debris of the collapsed structure.
The nearby residents and those involved in the rescue operation were gasping for breath due to leakage of ammonia gas at the cold store, which also caused irritation in their eyes. Later, water was used to suppress the effect of ammonia.
Of the 17 injured, four were taken to Dayanand Medical College (DMC), Ludhiana; three were shifted to the Rajindra Hospital, Patiala; and ten were undergoing treatment at the civil hospital, Sangrur.
Deputy commissioner (DC) APS Virk said that two among the injured were critical.
Rs 1-LAKH RELIEF TO KIN OF DECEASED
On the direction of chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, the district administration announced a compensation of Rs 1 lakh each to the families of the deceased and Rs 50,000 each to the injured.
Amarinder directed the district officials to investigate the matter and fix the responsibility for the mishap. He also ordered the state administration to ensure strict implementation of rules in the operation of all businesses and industries using dangerous material.
WHAT CAUSED THE BLAST
Though district officials said prima facie it appears that the blast took place due to leakage in a gas tank at the chiller plant of the cold store, Sangrur DC APS Virk said the Dhuri SDM has been asked to conduct an inquiry into the matter. “Nothing can be said until we get the report of the enquiry,” he said.
“One can’t deny some grave error that led the building to collapse. We will go into the depth of the matter to find out whether there were enough safety measures in place at the cold store to fix the responsibility,” he added.