The death toll from the explosion at NTPC’s Unchahar coal-fired power plant in Raebareli, Uttar Pradesh, has reached 36 .
A total of 21 of the seriously injured were flown by air ambulance to New Delhi for specialist treatment after the incident and 18 are said to still be in critical condition, with further fatalities a possibility. Around 80 were less seriously injured.
A boiler pipe burst in a 500 MW generating unit, which started operating in March. After the blast, a large fire broke out and a huge ball of dust rose making rescue difficult, local media reported. NTPC, formerly known as National Thermal Power Corporation, said in a statement that hot flue gases and steam escaped from the pipe, affecting the people working around the area.
Ash had piled up in the furnace beneath the boiler, which then led to a build-up of pressure resulting in the explosion, a senior Uttar Pradesh police spokesperson posted online.
The unit has been shut down and is likely to be closed for several months until repairs can be carried out, NTPC said. The other five units of 210 MW have been in operation since 1988 and three remain in production, with two closed for maintenance.
The Indian Power Ministry has set up a committee to investigate.