Three powerful blasts triggered a fire at at the gas terminal plant of the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation in Hazira in Surat, early on Thursday. No casualties was reported in the fire that started around 3 am was brought under control by 7 am.
Surat District Collector Dhaval Patel said, “The fire broke out in the inlet gas terminal after three massive blasts at 3.05 am. The compressed gas was depressurised to bring the fire under control… no one was injured.”
According to ONGC sources in Hazira, natural gas from Mumbai high sea offshore is transported to the plant through two pipe-lines of diameter 36 inches and 42 inches respectively, through a 240-kilometre network.
In a statement issued in the afternoon, ONGC Hazira plant manager and Group General Manager, DM Roy, said, “Small to moderate fire broke out in the Gas Terminal (36-inch line coming from offshore), a part of Hazira plant of ONGC, at around 3 am… due to leakage of gas… This led to the actuation of emergency alarm system and shut down of plant.”
He added, “Large number of depressurisations, actuated due to shut down of units, resulted in excessive flaring and blast-like noise. Corresponding units of the plant have been isolated and depressurised and the fire has been brought under control. No casualty, or injury has been reported.”
ONGC’s fire department personnel rushed to douse the fire as the technical expert team shut the gas supply valves at nearby stations in Gavier, Dumas and Abhva villages. Later, six fire tenders with around 10 fire personnel from the Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) fire
department also reached the spot.
An official of the ONGC fire department said, “The fire was brought under control by 7 am. The end point of the 36-inch pipeline was partially damaged… there was no other damage.”
“The technical expert team has examined the pipeline and said the repair work can be done in a week, after which operations will resume,” said an ONGC source.
The blasts in the plant, located on the bank of the Tapi river, were heard in around five-kilometre radius. Videos and images of the incident were shared widely on social media. People gathered on the bridge on Tapi river connecting Dumas area to Hazira, to witness the fire, and police had to intervene to clear the traffic.
“I was asleep at home with my family when our doors and windows started shaking following the blasts. We initially thought it was an earthquake… We rushed out of our home along with several residents from other flats. We went inside only after getting to know it was a blast at the ONGC plant,” said Hemant Undra from the nearby Kawas village.
Kirtesh Patel, a resident of Abhva village, one kilometre away from the ONGC, plant, said, “In our village, everyone sleeps around 11 pm. On hearing the strong blasts, villagers rushed out to the road… some youths took their bikes and went to the ONGC bridge to find out what happened. They informed us about the blasts. A few people from our village who work with the ONGC were on night duty… they shared details and told us not to worry.”
The residential colony of ONGC staff is also just two kilometres away from the ONGC plant. Jitendra Singh, a resident of the colony, said, “My elder brother who works in the company was on night shift. All at home were asleep when he heard the blasts. We suspected it was an earthquake or residential building might have collapsed. Later we got to know about the blasts. The CISF guards deployed at the gate checked and informed us there was no casualty… we were relieved.”
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