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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

fire at IOC Depot

Nearly 19 hours after it started, the fire at the Indian Oil Corporation's fuel depot in Sitapura industrial area on the outskirts of Jaipur is still raging.

Six people have been killed and 150 are injured. Six people are also said to be missing.

300 army men are helping with rescue, as some people are feared trapped in the depot. Experts from Mathura have also been called in to help.

Five-km area around the fire spot has been declared a "danger zone". Five lakh residents in the surrounding area have been moved to safer locations.

Among those who were evacuated were all the patients, doctors and staff of a government hospital and engineering and medical students of 10 hostels.

The IOC has said that they have disconnected the underground pipeline connecting the oil well and the depot.

The administration is also taking all precautionary measures to secure a nearby Indane gas bottling plant.

Cold water mixed with foam has been sprayed on the pipeline of LPG storage tankers located near the petroleum depot to keep it cool and unaffected from the heat generated from the fire.

Assistant Fire Officer at the site has said the intensity of fire has been reduced to 75 per cent and by evening it would die down when the fuel gets fully burnt.

Petroleum Minister Murli Deora reached Jaipur on Friday morning. "Not much can be done about the fire. It will have to be allowed to burn out," he said. He also announced a compensation of Rs 5 to 10 lakh for the injured and the families of the dead.

A high-level committee of the Petroleum Ministry will conduct a probe into the incident.

The chairman of the IOC has said this is the worst fire in the history of the Indian Oil Corporation.

Sitapura industrial area, just 3 km from Jaipur, is a busy place with many heavy electrical industries and a number of engineering colleges.

The fire, which is said to have erupted due to leakage in a petrol pipeline, broke out at about 7.30 pm on Thursday evening when petrol was reportedly being transferred. (How it happened)

Within minutes two dozen fire extinguishers were rushed to the spot but given the 80 lakh litres of petroleum products in the depot the fire spread, rapidly engulfing the entire depot. Soon the state government was forced to seek help from the Union Petroleum Ministry.

"It is a terrible blaze. I have spoken to the Petroleum Minister who is sending a team of officials to the site," Ashok Gehlot, the Chief Minister of Rajastan, said on Thursday.

The blaze could be seen from up to 20 km. The surrounding area has been evacuated and power cut off. The injured have been rushed to three major hospitals of Jaipur including the SMS hospital.

"All the factories and institution operating from the Sitapura industrial area have been asked to shift manpower to a different location. I have spoken to the DGM IOC about bringing the fire under control. The injured have been admitted to the SMS hospital, " said DM Kuldeep Ranka. (At hospital, burn victims share their stories)

"I was working when there was a sudden explosion. All the glass around us was shattered and it fell on us. We ran away from the spot," said one of the injured.

While all the 12 tanks in the IOC depot caught fire, a larger tragedy was averted as the LPG cylinders remained safe. The IOC says it will let the fuel burn itself out. People are keeping their fingers crossed that soon the worst will be over.


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