Indian Oil fire continues to rage in Jaipur oil depot (Roundup)

October 30th, 2009 - 10:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Jaipur/New Delhi, Oct 30 (IANS) A massive fire continued to rage Friday at an Indian Oil depot in Jaipur nearly 24 hours after it broke out, killing five people and injuring
150 others. Officials are waiting for the petroleum stock to burn off for the blaze to die out.

The fire, which could be seen miles away as well as the thick black smoke, has reduced to cinder nearby dwellings and a factory.

An Indian Oil official said six of their employees who were in the depot at the time of the accident, were missing.

The blaze broke out at the Indian Oil’s depot in Sitapura industrial area, about 20 km from Jaipur city centre, at 7.15 p.m. Thursday evening.

“At least five people have been killed in the accident till now (Friday evening),” Kuldeep Ranka, Jaipur district collector, said.

As the depot went up in flames, the administration quickly evacuated residential colonies, colleges and shut down industrial units in a 3-km radius. Roads upto 5 km radius have been blocked by the administration.

The army was also pressed into action to help in the rescue efforts.

Indian Oil rushed firefighting teams from Delhi, Panipat in Haryana and Mathura in Uttar Pradesh, while Oil and Natural Gas Corporation sent a support team from Hazira in Gujarat.

Union Petroleum Minister Murli Deora reached the accident site Friday morning accompanied by the Indian Oil chairman Sarthak Behuri and other senior company officials.

The minister was told that while the fire has been contained to the installation area, it would continue to burn till the fuel stock remains. The depot has about 50,000 kilolitres of petroleum products, worth about Rs.150-200 crore.

“We can’t do much firefighting in such kind of fires. We just have to wait for the fuel to burn out,” said an Indian Oil official.

A local industry association member said nearly 1,100 industrial units in the vicinity of the site have been shut down. Hundreds of units suffered damage to their building due the blasts at the depot.

The damages suffered are reportedly to the tune of nearly Rs.500 crore.

By Friday evening, the intensity of the fire had come down visibly.

Indian Oil announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs.10 lakh to the next of kin of each employee killed, Rs.2 lakh for each of those seriously injured and Rs.1 lakh for those with minor injuries.

In addition, the state government has already announced Rs.2 lakh for the families of each of those killed and Rs.1 lakh each for the seriously injured.

Deora also announced that a high-level enquiry committee has been set up, to be headed by former chairman and managing director of Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd M.B. Lal.

It will also include the executive director of Oil Industry Safety Directorate, Rajasthan government’s principal secretary for mining and petroleum Govind Sharma and two experts from the oil industry.

The committee has been given six weeks to submit a report to the petroleum ministry.

The minister also met Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and assured him that supply of petroleum products will not be affected by the accident.

“This will be done by working additional shifts and also working on Sundays,” a ministry statement said, quoting the minister.

Hindustan Petroleum, which has recently commissioned a petroleum product terminal at Bagru, near Jaipur on its Mudra-Delhi product pipeline, will take care of the requirements of the products in the area along with other nearby oil depots.

Meanwhile, following the news of the fire, the shares of Indian Oil scrip fell over 7.5 percent Friday on the Bombay Stock Exchange.

The company has already informed BSE that the accident will not affect the normal operations.

While it has not estimated the losses, Indian Oil said that the petroleum stocks were covered by insurance.

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