A SENIOR employee of ONGC and three Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel died and two others were injured in a massive fire that broke out inside a plant run by the oil and gas major in Uran, near Navi Mumbai, Tuesday morning.
Officials said it took over three hours to douse the fire, which started at 7 am. The deceased have been identified as CISF personnel N A Nayak (48), M Paswan (33) and SP Kushwaha (36), and ONGC employee C N Rao (50), police said. “They suffered 100 per cent burns and were identified by their ID cards,” Dr Manoj Dhatre, chief medical officer of Uran rural hospital, said. “There were seven people stuck inside at the time of the incident. Two of them suffered burn injuries but are out of danger. They have been identified as CISF personnel K R Mahesh and Raju Shindu. One suffered very minor injuries.”
According to Uran police, the incident was reported around 7.25 am by the ONGC staffer who suffered minor injuries. “All seven had come in for the morning shift at 5 am. Around 6.30 am, the CISF staff smelled gas leakage and alerted the GM. All of them went across to turn off the valve when there was a blast, and the plant caught fire,” said Inspector Anil Chavhan.
“As of now, we are lodging an accidental death report and are investigating,” he said.
“We were informed about the fire at the same time as ONGC’s internal crisis management team came to the area. Even with fire tenders from Navi Mumbai, Panvel, JNPT and CIDCO, along with the rainfall that happened, it took three hours to control the fire,” said a senior officer from Navi Mumbai police.
Three bodies were recovered close to 10 am when the fire was being controlled. “Because it was an ONGC plant, we immediately evacuated all residents in a 2-km radius. The fire was massive and the cloud of smoke had alerted the residents,” said a fire officer from Panvel. “It was raining and we were asked to leave our house immediately. We stood outside the perimeter for over three hours before returning home,” said Maya Bolke, a mother of two and resident of Nagaon, where the ONGC plant is located.
ONGC officials refused to comment on the incident. “We can’t ascertain what caused it right now. By the time I reached the spot, the plant was on fire and it was escalating every minute,” said an official from its internal crisis management team.
“Fire broke out in storm water drainage in Uran Plant early morning successfully doused within two hours by fire fighting team. #ONGC’s robust crisis mitigation preparedness helped put off this major fire in a very short time,” the company posted on its Twitter account.
“We r extremely sad to hv lost 4 precious lives-3 CISF jawans and a senior ONGC officer in the unfortunate fire incident in Uran Plant 2day inspite of valiant efforts made to contain blaze in less than 2 hrs tme. #ONGC expresses its heartfelt condolence to bereaved families,” it posted.
The fire had “no impact on oil processing” and gas was “diverted to Hazira Plant” in Gujarat, ONGC tweeted.
Meanwhile, the Mahanagar Gas Limited (MGL) issued a statement saying, “The gas supply to MGL’s City Gate Station at Wadala was affected due to a major fire at ONGC’s gas processing facility at Uran, in the morning. However, the gas supply to MGL’s City Gate Station at Wadala has been partially restored and the gas supply at various CNG stations in Mumbai and to industrial and commercial customers across MGL’s network is getting progressively normalized. MGL said that the Wadala gas supply station was affected for 30 to 40 minutes. But the transportation sector was not affected as there was enough amount of stored gas on CNG petrol pumps, officials said.
Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) which is totally dependent on Gas supply will suffer if supply of gas will not become normal. The BEST spokesperson said, “ Currently we are using gas supply restored in pipes in the depot, however, the spokesperson further said,” if supply not restored soon, the BEST transport will be affected. BEST has a Gas supply station in its all depots where buses get fueled up. In BEST there are nearly 2000 buses run on CNG and nearly 1200 buses run on Diesel.”