Andhra Pradesh: Six killed, 12 injured in fire mishap at chemical factory

CM Jagan announced an ex-gratia of Rs 25 lakh each to the kin of the deceased and Rs five lakh to those who suffered severe injuries

Vijayawada: At least six persons were killed and 12 others grievously injured when a reactor at Porus Laboratories Private Limited exploded. The incident took place at Akkireddygudem village of Musunuru mandal in Eluru district of AP at about 11 pm on Wednesday.

At the time of the mishap in Block-D, there were 18 workers. Five were charred to death while 13 others suffered severe burns. However, among the 13, one was declared as 'brought dead', raising the toll to six. Out of the remaining 12 injured, one suffered minor bruises. He was sent away after giving first aid. The remaining 11 suffered over 70 per cent burns and are in a critical condition. The impact of the blast was reportedly felt over a 10-km radius. Initially, the injured were shifted to a local hospital and later, to a government hospital in Vijayawada.

The explosion took place when factory workers were adding 350 kg of mono methyl amine gas to 1,500 kg phthalic anhydride in a 3 KL capacity reactor. The resultant mixture exploded generating 160ºC to 200ºC of heat due to exothermic reaction of chemicals. The mixture was to produce 4-nitro n-methylphthalimide in stage one out of a two stage process.

Factories sources said the pressure valve, rapture disc mechanism and reactor dump tank were blocked resulting in the blast at its manhole. Soon after, highly inflammable monomethylamine gas started leaking outside, spreading the fire all over.

Fortunately, the main valve of the gas was closed within five minutes of the reactor blast. A major disaster was averted as the raging fire did not reach the 15 other reactors in the factory and solvent tanks used to store chemicals, boiler and coal yard.

Porus Laboratories is involved in production of raw materials to make polymers to be used to make PVC material from its plant in Visakhapatnam.

Regional fire officer G. Srinivasulu said, “We got a call on fire mishap at 11 pm and our fire vehicles from Nuziveedu and Visannapeta reached by 11.30 pm and by 2.30 am, we could put out the fire. The firm maintained fire safety norms and kept five lakh litres of water in storage and we consumed all the water to fight the raging fire.”

Vijayawada government hospital medical superintendent B. Sowbhagya Lakshmi said, "We received 13 persons injured in the fire mishap and out of them, one was brought dead. At the request of the firm, we allowed the remaining 11 injured persons to be shifted to a private hospital for treatment as we were told that they were having insurance coverage."

Out of the six deceased, four were from Bihar while two from AP. They were identified as Karu Ravidas, 40; Manoj Kumar, 25; Suvas Ravi Das, 32; Habdas Ravi Das, 27; Udurupati Krishnaiah, 34 and Boppudi Kiran, 42.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy expressed shock over the fire mishap at Porus Labs and conveyed profound sympathy to the bereaved family members. He announced an ex gratia of Rs 25 lakh each to the kin of the deceased, Rs 5 lakh each to those who suffered major injuries and Rs 2 lakh each for those who suffered minor injuries. The firm also announced relief of Rs 25 lakh to the kin of the deceased.

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