3 deaths, injuries at Bengal IOC refinery trigger agitation; govt announces aid

Updated on Dec 22, 2021 05:19 PM IST

IOC officials said the injured employees were initially admitted to the Haldia Refinery Hospital from where 38 men were rushed to two private hospitals in Kolkata late on Tuesday.

Shutdown and maintenance work is going on at some of the major units in the IOC refinery. The accident happened around 2.40 pm on Tuesday at the MSQ unit during a shutdown-related work at the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) refinery in Haldia . (ANI PHOTO.)
Shutdown and maintenance work is going on at some of the major units in the IOC refinery. The accident happened around 2.40 pm on Tuesday at the MSQ unit during a shutdown-related work at the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) refinery in Haldia . (ANI PHOTO.)

The death of three contractual workers and injury suffered by nearly 40 in a fire on Tuesday at the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) refinery at Haldia in Bengal’s East Midnapore district triggered protests on Wednesday.

A team of senior IOC officials from Delhi reached the refinery. A three-member expert committee started a probe into the accident, IOC officials said.

As a few hundred contractual workers assembled outside the plant, demanding compensation for the affected families and treatment for the injured men, state irrigation minister Soumen Mahapatra, who hails from the region, visited the spot and held a meeting with IOC officials.

The minister said he demanded upgradation of safety measures inside the plant and adequate compensation for the families of the deceased.

“IOC has agreed to give a compensation of 5 lakh each to the three families. A similar amount will be given by the private firm that employed these workers,” Mahapatra said after the meeting on Wednesday afternoon.

According to IOC, shutdown and maintenance work is going on at some of the major units in the refinery. The accident happened around 2.40 pm on Tuesday at the MSQ unit during a shutdown-related work.

“The preliminary cause of the accident seems to be a flash fire leading to burn injuries to 44 people and three persons unfortunately succumbed to the injuries. The fire was immediately extinguished and the situation is now under control,” the IOC said in a statement.

IOC officials said the injured employees were initially admitted to the Haldia Refinery Hospital from where 38 men were rushed to two private hospitals in Kolkata late on Tuesday.

“The family members of the three workers who unfortunately lost their lives during yesterday’s incident have been contacted for extending all possible support in this hour of grief. Among those with injuries, three contract workers have been discharged after preliminary treatment and 38 others have been admitted at multi-speciality hospitals in Kolkata for advanced medical care,” the IOC said in a statement.

“Indian Oil is extending the best medical treatment to the 38 injured and no effort or cost will be spared to ensure their speedy recovery. Their family members are also being contacted for extending all necessary support. The senior management of “Indian Oil is continuously monitoring the situation. Indian Oil shall provide all necessary assistance, relief and adequate compensation to the affected workers. A high-level committee from Delhi is already on site for inquiring into the cause of the incident,” the statement added.

On Tuesday, the state police set up a green corridor so that the ambulances could reach Kolkata without having to stop at traffic signals along the 118-kilometer route.

In a tweet, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said: “Deeply anguished by the fire in IOC, Haldia. Three precious lives were lost and my thoughts are with the bereaved families in this hour of grief. Those injured are being brought to Kolkata through a green corridor. GoWB will extend all assistance to ensure their speedy recovery.”

A doctor at one of the private hospitals in Kolkata said some of the men undergoing treatment not only suffered burns but also inhaled toxic gas.

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