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Hydroelectric power plant fire kills nine in India

21 August 2020

A fire at a hydroelectric power plant has killed nine workers in the town of Srisailam, south east India. The blaze broke out late on August 20, trapping the nine people in an underground part of the facility.

The Srisailam Dam - Image: Wikimedia
The Srisailam Dam - Image: Wikimedia

On August 21, nine bodies were found after the fire at the Srisailam Left Bank Hydel Power Station (SLBHP) had been extinguished. Three of the dead were confirmed as being assistant engineers at the plant. The power plant belongs to Telangana State Power Generation Corporation Limited (TSGenco).

The state of Telangana’s Chief Minister ordered an immediate criminal investigation. Local police and fire officials said that comprehensive efforts had been made to rescue the trapped workers, but the dangerous conditions caused difficulties. Local media have reported that the fire is likely to have been caused by a short circuit in an electrical panel in the plant’s power house. 

The power house is located underground, about 1.2km away from the entrance. The only way in and out, according to TSGenco, was through a tunnel. There were 30 employees at the TSGenco plant at the time of the fire, with several workers escaping through the tunnel before it became filled with thick smoke as the fire spread. The smoke and heat of the fire trapped the nine workers and prevented rescue teams from entering until the afternoon of August 21. The workers were found dead inside the tunnel.

Several workers who managed to escape the facility before the fire spread were taken to a nearby hospital, three in a serious condition. 

The SLBHP is located on the Telangana side of the Srisailam reservoir near the Srisailam Dam, India’s second largest hydroelectric station by capacity.

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