Eight killed in Himachal factory fire (Second Lead)

June 3rd, 2009 - 10:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Nalagarh (Himachal Pradesh), June 3 (IANS) Eight people, including three fire brigade personnel, died in a fire that broke out in a factory in this Himachal Pradesh town Wednesday, police said.
One worker of the factory, which manufactures air-conditioners, is still missing and a police officer feared that if trapped inside the premises he could be dead.

“The fire is still smouldering in the factory premises and the chances of survival of the missing employee are remote,” Pardeep Kumar, deputy inspector general, told IANS.

The “fire broke out in the factory named 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 the dead included five company employees.

Two fire brigade personnel were buried after a wall collapsed while they were controlling the flames.

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 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.

Himachal Health Minister Rajeev Bindal, who visited the spot, said an inquiry has been ordered into the incident.

“The government has ordered a probe to know the reasons for the fire and to ascertain whether the company had taken adequate fire safety measures,” he said.

“We have also directed the administration to inspect all the industrial units in the area to know whether they have taken fire safety measures or not.”

State Governor Prabha Rau and Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal have expressed grief over the incident.

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