A deadly fire has broken out in Sanganer, Jaipur, Rajasthan (India) due to explosion at a oil depot at 7:30PM local time. Five people have been reported killed and about 150 injured by now. The depot stores gasoline, kerosene and diesel fuel for several state-owned oil companies. The fire has spread and damaged “industrial units” as far as three kilometers (1.87 miles) away.
Two villages in the vicinity have been evacuated and people in one km radius have been asked to stay out. Efforts are still on to douse the fire but is not yet under control.
The Indian Oil Corporation has said that the fire broke out due to leakage in petrol pipeline. The IOC has meanwhile sent teams to Jaipur from Delhi and Mumbai.
Army has been called in to help with the rescue work. 270 army personnel have been deployed for the work. Some reports indicated five dead while 25 people being trapped in the complex which had about 80-90 lakh liters of fuel.
Twelve tankers containing fuel have been affected by the fire, according to the Indian news service, citing Ishwar Lal, a chief fire officer. Lal said it would be “devastating” if the fire reaches LPG, liquefied petroleum gas, tanks.
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who presided an emergency cabinet meeting late this evening in the wake of the fire, said Rs one lakh would be given to the seriously injured and Rs 50,000 to those who suffered “normal” burn injuries.
He said all private hospitals have been asked to treat the injured and the government foot the bills of their treatment.
Till now 5 people are reported dead while over 200 injured. Meanwhile authorities are following a policy of letting the fuel burn on its own as the Union Petroleum Minister almost expressed inability to fight such fire owing to lack of experience of agencies who have no such precedence of extreme fire.
The scale of the blaze and the intensity of the flames forced Union Petroleum Minister Murli Deora to admit that it was virtually impossible to control the inferno until the fuel in the tanks ran out.
“It’s difficult to control this fire,” Deora said after reaching Jaipur with a team of six experts. “It will be wrong to say we don’t have the infrastructure. But it’s difficult to control a fire of such scale. India has never seen a blaze like this.“
Center has meanwhile announced a compensation package in addition to the one announced by the state government. The Centre announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the dead. Compensation for those injured would be offered in three categories – Rs 5 lakh for the seriously injured, Rs 2 lakh for the injured and Rs 1 lakh for the slightly injured.
While the firefighters still try to contain the damage in the area; all the industrial establishments in a 3-km radius have been destroyed. A fresh explosion was also heard at around 9AM local time after which a few neighboring houses were seen on fire. Area in a 10km radius has been evacuated as a precautionary measure. 40-50houses and 12 factories have been charred in the incident.
Meanwhile a high-level committee of the Petroleum Ministry will investigate the incident.
A high-level committee of the Petroleum Ministry will probe the causes behind the fire at the IOC fuel facility on the outskirts of the city and suggest future safety measures at oil and gas depots.
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said this after talks with Petroleum Minister Murli Deora, who arrived here to take stock of the situation arising out of the blaze raging for over 16 hours.
Meanwhile the the losses till now from the incident to the state owned IOC have been estimated at INR 200-crore. (Approx. USD 40 Mn).
This pulled down the company’s script down by 7.5% at the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) during Friday’s trade.
Update at 31st October (01:22AM IST)
Although officials have confirmed five deaths, six others present at the site at the time of the fire are feared dead. Five bodies have been recovered but the IOC employees are still untraced. Many more are critical in the city’s hospitals.
“It’s not known whether these employees are dead but they were at the depot during the time of the fire. Those declared dead are people who had been admitted to various hospitals since Thursday,” Rajasthan home secretary Pradip Sen said.
During the day, petroleum minister Murli Deora visited the site but could not throw much light on what exactly triggered the killer blaze and how it spun out of control. He was resigned to the fact that there was no way but to let the one lakh kilolitres of fuel in IOC’s 11 tankers at the oil depot in Sitapura Industrial Area to just burn out.