A blast and fire at the Bhilai Steel Plant in Chhattisgarh in eastern India killed eleven employees and injured 12 on October 9, police said. The explosion at the state-owned Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) plant took place in a gas pipeline. The injured, most in a serious condition, were taken to hospital.
Local sources said 24 employees were working nearby when the blast occurred in a gas pipe leading to Coke Oven Battery Complex No. 11 during a scheduled maintenance job.
A union leader ascribed the blast to uneven pressure in the gas pipeline, which had been reported two days earlier and was to be rectified.
S P Dey, a worker of the Coke Oven Battery section and president of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, Bhilai Steel Plant unit, told local media that standard maintenance protocol was adhered to, including fire brigade and ambulance being in attendance, but during coupling of the pipeline the explosion took place.
Dey said it was the worst mishap at the plant in the recent years. In June 2014, six persons, including two deputy general managers, were killed and many others affected when poisonous gas leaked in the plant, he said.
Bhilai Steel Plant produces rails for Indian Railways, wire, rods, steel plate and structural steel. It has an annual production capacity of 3.15 million tonnes of steel products. The town is around 30 km from Chhattisgarh capital Raipur.