The scenes at the hospitals at which victims of the HPCL blast were being treated were heart-rending. In stark contrast to Friday evening, scores of relatives turned up at the hospitals on Saturday and were seen waiting outside squatting near the parking lots or moving agitatedly near the gates and the main entrance.

The relatives blamed the contractors and the HPCL authorities for failing to give prompt and proper information on the victims who were injured or at least tell them to which hospital they were shifted. At Old Care Hospital, the relatives picked up an argument with the private security personnel and the police for not allowing them into the hospital. The policemen on duty took great pains to explain to them that it was not advisable for so many persons to visit the patients in the ICU. It was a risk to the patients themselves.

Thota Rao, who sustained 70 per cent burns, is undergoing treatment at Old Care Hospital. Moka Krishna, his paternal uncle, said: “We heard about the blast around 5 p.m. yesterday and reached the plant. My brother’s son was working in the cooling tower area. There was no one to give information about his safety and we were not allowed in the plant area.”

We went to the Naval Hospital INHS Kalyani around 6 p.m. and after a long wait we were directed to go to the Care Hospital. We went to the New Care Hospital but found that Thota Rao was not taken there. We enquired about him at Manipal Hospitals, then Seven Hills and finally reached Old Care Hospital, where he was admitted.”

Thota Rao’s wife is a housewife and their two sons are aged 7 and 5 years. He is the sole earning member in the family. Lakshmi, wife of P. Venkata Rao, who sustained severe burns, was in a dejected mood at the Seven Hills Hospital along with their daughter and son, who are studying degree First year and Intermediate first year respectively. Lakshmi had studied only up to 5 class and was at a loss to understand how their family would tide over the crisis.

K. Ramana (27), a crane operator who had sustained 80 per cent burns in the accident, is undergoing treatment at Seven Hills Hospital. His wife Madhavi was seen squatting in a corner near the scooter stand along with her two sons aged 2 years and 1 year.

Karuvayya, a native of Vijjipeta village of Santa Kaviti mandal in Srikakulam district, has two sons. They had all shifted to Malkapuram in the industrial area in search of livelihood. “Fate has dealt a cruel blow and my son has now been hospitalised,” he lamented.

“Of the 14 patients undergoing treatment in our hospital, six are critical,” Seven Hills Medical Superintendent M. Dinakar said.

Telugu Desam president N. Chandrababu Naidu who called on the victims at Seven Hills Hospital later distributed Rs.2,000 each to the relatives of the victims to meet out of pocket expenses.

More In: Visakhapatnam