Massive explosion in chemical plant in Visakhapatnam pharma city; 4 injured

At least four people were injured, one of them seriously, when a fire broke out in a chemical plant in Andhra Pradesh’s Visakhapatnam leading to a massive explosion of one of its reactors late on Monday, in the third such accident in the district in two months, the police said.

The accident happened at the solvents’ recovery unit of Visakha Solvents Ltd, which recovers waste solvents from pharmaceutical units, located in Ramky Pharma City of Paravada on the outskirts of Visakhapatnam, at around 11pm.

Police said four workers were present in the plant at the time of the accident and all of them were injured. One of them, Malleshwar Rao, received severe burn injuries and was shifted to a private hospital at Gajuwaka.

Visakhapatnam district collector V Vinay Chand said according to preliminary investigations, there were five reactors in the plant and one of them exploded.

“Soon after coming to know about the incident, the entire district administration was alerted and efforts were made to control the fire,” Chand said.

As many as 12 fire tenders were deployed to douse the flames and officials struggled for four hours to bring the flames under control using chemical foam and water.

Visakhapatnam police commissioner Rajeev Kumar Meena said the exact cause of the fire was yet to be ascertained. “The police and fire tenders rushed there and brought the flames under control,” he said.

Chief executive officer of pharma city Lal Krishna told reporters the fire might have broken out in one of the columns during the recovery process.

“Luckily, the flames were confined only to Visakha Solvents and they did not spread to other units,” he said.

The fire spread to a few other adjacent tanks storing chemicals resulting in their explosion.

People in Visakhapatnam about 15km from the pharma city could also hear the explosions.

“We could hear the sounds of around 12-15 explosions and the flames were visible till a long distance. Thick smoke that billowed from the premises spread over several kilometres,” Rajesh M, a resident of Maddilapalem junction in Visakhapatnam, said.

People in the nearby localities in Parawada rushed out of their houses, as electric lines in the nearby areas also got snapped, leading to complete darkness.

Workers belonging to adjacent pharmaceutical companies ran for their safety. There are nearly 85 pharmaceutical companies in the pharma city but the fire did not spread to other units.

This is the second industrial mishap in the pharma city and third in the district since May.

Two workers died and four others were hospitalised after a gas leak in Sainor Life Sciences Pvt Ltd at Jawaharlal Nehru Pharma City in Parawada on June 30.

Twelve people were killed in a gas leak at LG Polymers India Ltd, a South Korean-owned factory making polystyrene products, and hundreds fell sick on May 7 in Visakhapatnam.

Source : Hindustan Times

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