Updated: November 2, 2017 6:03:56 am
Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, who is in Gujarat for the third leg of his ‘Navsarjan Yatra’, will leave for Rae Bareli on Thursday morning following an explosion at a boiler in the state-run NTPC’s Unchahar plant that left 18 people dead, while scores suffered severe burn injuries.
The Congress vice-president said he would resume the ‘yatra’ on Thursday afternoon. “Due to the unfortunate #NTPC accident, I will visit Rae Bareli tomorrow. Will join Gujarat Navsarjan Yatra in afternoon,” Rahul tweeted.
Party leaders said the decision to fly to Rae Bareli was taken after Rahul received a call from Sonia Gandhi before his public address at Mandvi in Surat district. It was not possible for Gandhi to personally visit her constituency as she is presently recuperating from a stomach bug and was discharged from Sir Ganga Ram Hospital just two days ago. They said Rahul would return on Thursday afternoon to continue the rally after visiting the injured in the NTPC blast.
Due to the unfortunate NTPC accident, I will visit Rae Bareli tomorrow morning. Will join Gujarat Navsarjan Yatra in the afternoon.
— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) November 1, 2017
Earlier, Sonia Gandhi expressed shock and horror at the “terrible tragedy”. Conveying her deepest condolences to the families of the bereaved, Gandhi urged the authorities to provide immediate medical assistance to the injured.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was “deeply pained” by the accident and the situation was being closely monitored. “Deeply pained by the accident at the NTPC plant in Raebareli. My thoughts are with the bereaved families. May the injured recover quickly. The situation is being closely monitored & officials are ensuring normalcy is restored,” he tweeted.
The NTPC has already initiated a probe to ascertain the reasons behind the blast while Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who is away in Mauritius on a three-day official visit, announced Rs 2 lakh compensation for the families of those killed and Rs 50,000 for the injured.
The NTPC said at around 3.30 pm at unit number six of its Unchahar plant, there was a sudden abnormal sound at an elevation of 20 meters. There was an opening in corner number two from which hot flue gases and steam escaped affecting the people working around the area, it said. Principal Secretary (Home) Arvind Kumar told PTI about 90 people were rushed to nearby hospitals and most of them were discharged after first aid.
Union Power minister R K Singh expressed deep anguish at the loss of lives and said e had directed the NTPC Chairman and Managing Director Gurdeep Singh to rush to the site. UP’s ADG (Law and Order) Anand Kumar said that all available ambulances were pressed into action and the additional district magistrate and the additional superintendent of police were on the spot to supervise relief and rescue operations.
“The CM expressed his condolences over the deaths of workers in the Unchahar NTPC unit and announced Rs 2 lakh compensation for the family of those killed and Rs 50,000 for the grievously injured besides Rs 25,000 for other injured workers,” Principal Secretary (information) Awanish Awasthi
A National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team was also dispatched to the explosion site from the state capital for relief and rescue operations, an official said. The explosion triggered panic among the employees who ran helter-skelter. Such explosions can generate searing heat, an official said.
An injured employee undergoing treatment said a sudden gush of hot gas with contents of ash-like material engulfed him at the NTPC plant. The man said he was unable to understand what had happened and found himself on a hospital bed with his body scalded all over when he regained consciousness.
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