The toll in the oxygen house explosion at the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant increased to 15 on Saturday with the death of three more persons.

YSR Congress Party honorary president Y.S. Vijayamma is scheduled to call on the bereaved family members of June 13 blast and later visit the accident site in the evening. Nine employees, including VSP Deputy General Manager (Construction) L. Srihari died on the spot.

Officials of Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited, the corporate entity of VSP, said P. Narayana Rao, senior chargeman (energy management department) and M.B. Muralidhar Raju, foreman (SMS construction), succumbed to the burns at Mumbai in the early hours of Saturday -- a day after they were shifted in an air ambulance from here for specialised care.

VSP Assistant General Manager (Utility) L. Srinivasa Rao, who was admitted to Seven Hills Hospital here died here on Saturday morning. With his death, the number of VSP employees who lost their lives due to the blast in the compound of newly constructed Steel Melt Shop-II increased to nine. Six of those who died so far were contract workers.

VSP General Manager (Project) D.S. Kalsi and AGM (SMS) M.B.R.S. Sarma and R. Bhattacharya of M.N. Dastur & Co., consultant for RINL's Rs.12,500-crore expansion project, are now battling for life in corporate hospitals -- the first two in Mumbai and the third one in Seven Hills Hospital in the city. Mr. Bhattacharya was also likely to be shifted for admission at National Burns Centre Hospital in Navi Mumbai.

Probe into blast

Two Senior Civil Judges M. Rama Devi and Surya Rao inspected the blast site and interacted with senior officials and employees of VSP on Friday. They are likely to submit their finding on Saturday.

The Judges conducted the probe and took photographs of the accident spot on the advice of National Legal Service Authority (NLSA) headed by a Supreme Court Judge to the District Legal Service Authority (DLSA).

The high-level committee headed by former chairman of SAIL S.R. Jain, announced by Union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma, is yet to be constituted. The proposed team will commence investigation and begin its work after finalisation of members from IIT and other institutes.