Rae Bareli/ Lucknow: The death toll in the explosion at the new 500 megawatt unit of NTPC's Feroz Gandhi Unchahar Thermal power station reached 29 on Thursday morning.
A total of four critically injured people succumbed to their injuries at different government hospitals in Lucknow late last night. Still more than 60 critically injured were admitted at different hospitals.
The boiler tube of the newly commissioned sixth unit of 500 MW exploded on Wednesday afternoon at 1536 hrs leading to the incident.
Chief Medical Officer, Rae Bareli, D K Singh confirmed that 22 people died on the spot while nine were being treated at the district hospital. He said the death toll could increase further as a couple of bodies are still lying inside the power plant.
Dr Singh said that 55 critically injured were rushed to Lucknow while several others were sent to Allahabad for treatment.
The rescue operation was suspended last night even after arrival of the NDRF team from Lucknow and it started this morning. In Lucknow, Civil Hospital chief medical superintendent Ashutosh Dubey told UNI that six people died at the hospital during the treatment while one person died on way to Lucknow from Uchahar.
He said 31 people are admitted in the hospital in critical condition who have sustained burn injuries from 60 to 90 per cent. KGMU Trauma centre in-charge Dr S N Shankwar said that 11 patients are being treated in his hospital.
However, eye-witnesses claim that the death toll could be high as 45. The unit, set up by the state-run BHEL and NTPC, was yet to start its commercial operation and was on a trial run when this accident took place.
The victims were mostly contractual workers engaged in construction work of the boiler.
According to an eyewitness, a big explosion rocked the campus with black smoke engulfing the unit. There were around 500 worker working in the power plant at the time of the incident. Most of the victims were burnt alive and they could not be identified. Among the critically injured there are three AGM rank officials of the NTPC, who have been identified as Sanjeev Sharma, Prabhat Srivastava and Mishrilal.
According to the reports, the plant was on a trial run generating just around 200 megawatt of power and was not supplying it to the grid.
Preliminary probe said the blast was caused by a large volume of ash that had collected inside the furnace. It jacked up the pressure within the apparatus to unmanageable levels, resulting in the blast. Reports said the blast took place when a duct connecting the boiler and the furnace, which was choked by the ash, gave way. As a result of the blast, the entire premises was filled with hot ash resulting in severe burn injuries to workers.
'The temperature of the chamber where the boiler was installed, shot up and it was virtually impossible to start the rescue operations before the ash finally settled and the temperatures came down,' said a senior police officer. UNI