Eight killed, 54 missing in Russia power plant blast (Lead)

August 17th, 2009 - 11:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Moscow, Aug 17 (RIA Novosti) At least eight people were killed and 54 others missing Monday when an oil transformer at a power station exploded in Russia’s southern Siberia, officials said.
The blast damaged the plant’s water ducts, flooding the turbine room at the station.

“An oil transformer blew up in the turbine room during repairs on one of the generating units,” spokesman of the Investigation Committee Vladimir Markin said.

He said according to “preliminary reports eight people working in the turbine room were killed, 10 others injured and 54 are missing”.

He added that the plant’s three hydroelectric generating units and the turbine room were destroyed in the explosion. The production at the plant was stopped after the accident.

Officials are meanwhile investigating whether violation of safety norms led to the fatal accident.

The accident cut power supplies to homes and companies, including metal giants Evraz Group and RusAl. Six factories in the nearby Altai region were closed down following the power crisis.

RusHydro, owner of the Sayano-Shushenskaya plant, said the generating units would be reactivated within 45 days.

“Replacing the turbine will take from 18 months to two years,” the firm’s acting head, Vasily Zubakin, said. “The station’s units that were not damaged could be restarted within 45 days.”

Before the accident, 10 generating units were operating at the plant.

He said a precise assessment of the damage still needed to be carried out.

The Ekho Moskvy radio said 68 people were missing after the accident.

The Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric station first started its operation in 1978.

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