Eight killed in Himachal factory fire, probe ordered (Third Lead)

June 4th, 2009 - 12:17 am ICT by IANS  

Nalagarh (Himachal Pradesh), June 3 (IANS) At least eight people were killed when a fire broke out in a factory in this town Wednesday, police said. The Himachal Pradesh government ordered an inquiry into the incident.
A worker of the factory that manufactures air-conditioners was still missing late at night and rescue workers feared that he could be dead if he was trapped inside.

“We have ordered an inquiry into the reasons for the incident,” Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal told IANS.

Dhumal visited the spot in the evening and met the injured at Nalagarh’s general hospital. “I have directed the deputy commissioner to submit the probe report as early as possible,” he said.

Deputy inspector general Pardeep Kumar said: “The fire is still smouldering in the factory premises and the chances of survival of the missing employee are remote.”

“The fire broke out in the factory of the Advantic group in the wee hours Wednesday. Fire tenders were called from the neighbouring towns of Baddi, Parwanoo and even from Ropar town in Punjab,” Kumar said.

He said those dead included five company employees and three fire brigade personnel, who were buried after a wall collapsed while they were trying to control the flames. “The owner of the company had a heart attack after the incident.”

Sumedha Dwivedi, senior superintendent of police (Baddi), said a big blast was heard in the factory that damaged the building and hampered the rescue operation.

“The blast might have occurred in cylinders carrying highly inflammable gases that are used for refrigeration. Combustible material present there fanned the fire,” she said.

Nineteen people suffered serious burn injuries, she said. The injured were admitted to Nalagarh’s general hospital. Nine were referred to Chandigarh.

At the time of the incident, 49 employees were on duty in the factory.

Nalagarh town, an industrial hub of Himachal Pradesh, is around 120 km from the state capital.

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