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India power plant blast kills at least 18, injures 100 [Updated]

01 November 2017

At least 18 people were killed and around 100 injured after a boiler exploded on November 1 in the newest power generating unit at the NTPC Unchahar power plant in Raebareli, Uttar Pradesh. The number of dead and injured may rise as many are believed to be trapped inside the unit and many of the injured have suffered severe burns.

Unchahar power plant - Image: NTPC
Unchahar power plant - Image: NTPC

A boiler pipe burst in the 500 MW generating unit, which started operating in March. After the blast, a massive fire broke out and a huge ball of dust rose making rescue difficult, local media reported.

NTPC, formerly known as National Thermal Power Corporation, said in a statement that hot flue gases and steam escaped from the pipe, affecting the people working around the area.

The plant has now been shut down. A National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team has also been sent to help in the rescue effort.

The injured are being treated at two hospitals including one within the NTPC campus. Those with the worst burn injuries are being taken to hospitals in Lucknow, around 110 km away.

The plant started generating power in 1988 with five units of 210 MW each. The sixth unit was commissioned this year.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: "Deeply pained by the accident at the NTPC plant in Raebareli. My thoughts are with the bereaved families. May the injured recover quickly. The situation is being closely monitored and officials are ensuring normalcy is restored.”

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, ordered Rs 2 lakh ($3,100) be paid to the families of the dead and Rs. 50,000 ($775) for the badly injured.

Update: On November 5, Indian sources said the death toll had risen to 35. A total of 21 of the injured have been flown by air ambulance to New Delhi for specialist treatment and 18 are said to be in critical condition.

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