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Indian chemical plant explosion kills eight, injures 50

04 June 2020

An explosion on June 3 killed eight workers and injured 50 others at a chemical plant in the state of Gujarat on the western coast of India. The cause of the blast is unknown, with some local media reporting that it was a boiler blast, while others suggested it occurred in a storage tank housing chemicals.

Representative image: Shutterstock
Representative image: Shutterstock

Around 200 workers were on the site in Dahej, Bharuch district when the incident happened at around midday. The plant is owned by chemical manufacturer Yashashvi Rasayan, a subsidiary of the Patel Group. 
A preliminary report by local authorities said the explosion happened in a chemical storage tank and caused a fire that spread across the plant. The report added that some workers who were near the storage tank at the time were killed instantly after being covered in highly concentrated chemicals.
The injured workers were taken to local hospitals while around 5,000 local villagers were evacuated as a precaution. Several injured workers remain in a critical condition. Footage posted on social media following the blast shows a large plume of smoke rising from the factory as workers are running from the factory. 
The fire was brought under control a few hours later, allowing a search and rescue operation to begin to find any trapped workers remaining in the factory. Six bodies were found after the fire was put out while two more workers died in hospital. According to a local official, methanol and xylene were stored in tanks close to the tank that exploded. 
The Bharuch District Superintendent of Police said in a statement that an investigation has been opened and that the death toll may rise after the chemical factory site has been fully surveyed. 
On June 8, a tribunal asked Yashashvi Rasayan to make an interim deposit of around Rs 25 crore (around £2.6 million) while an investigation into the incident continues. The National Green Tribunal, a body set up in 2010 to handle environmental disputes and issues, said it held Yashashvi Rasayan liable for the damage caused to both human lives and the environment. 
The six person panel, which includes retired judges and former officials, has opened an inquiry into the fire and explosion on June 3 and will submit a report within a month, newspaper The Indian Express reports. The tribunal will look into the events of June 3, the cause of the explosion and those responsible, the extent of damage to lives and the environment, the steps required for compensation, and what needs to be done for restoration of the site.
The Rs 25 crore is in addition to compensation which Yashashvi Rasayan has already been ordered to pay. This includes Rs 15 lakh (£15,694) to the families of those killed in the incident, Rs 5 lakh (£5,232) to anyone seriously injured, Rs 2.5 lakh (£2,616) to anyone injured, and Rs 25,000 (£261) each to anyone displaced from their home as a result of incident.
India has suffered several industrial accidents in recent weeks as the country begins to ease lockdown restrictions. On May 7, a gas leak in southern India killed 12 people as hundreds of people fell ill with burning eyes and breathing difficulties. Hundreds more people were also evacuated after the leak at the LG Polymers plant in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh state.

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