More than 17 hours after a massive fire broke out at Indian Oil Corp’s fuel depot near hear killing six of the company’s employees, actual fire fighting is yet to begin as petrol and diesel stored in tanks were still burning.
The fire that started due to a leakage in one of the valves at around 1930 hrs on Thursday continues to rage in five of the 13 tanks that stored petrol, diesel and kerosene.
“There is not much we can do currently. We have to let all of petrol and diesel to burn before fire tenders can even go anywhere near the burning tanks,” Petroleum Minister Murli Deora, who flew in here early Friday morning, said.
Two diesel tanks, each having 20,000 kiloliters of the auto fuel, and three 10,000 kl petrol storages were on fire and it may not be before evening when foam-carrying fire tenders moved from Mathura, Panipat and Ahmedabad can begin dousing the fire.
Mr. Deora said IOC will give an ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh to the kin of those killed in the fire and Rs 2 lakh to those seriously injured. Rs 1 lakh would be given to those with minor injuries. “This is besides the compensation announced by the Rajasthan government.”
An IOC official said the tank farm catered to the fuel requirement of Rajasthan. Three kerosene tanks and two petrol storage tanks were safe.
The 35 water-carrying fire tenders rushed by the state government, would be ineffective in fighting the fire and they are being used for cooling the area around the tanks.
Mr. Deora said a five-member committee headed by M B Lal, former Chairman and Managing Director, Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd, will go into the causes and suggest holistic safety measures. The committee, which also has Executive Director of Oil Industry Safety Directorate (OISD) as member secretary, will submit its report in six weeks.
All those killed were IOC employees while five others were seriously injured. 40 others sustained minor injuries.
Mr. Deora said the tank farm feeds the supply depots of IOC, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum and alternate arrangements have already been made to ensure that there is no fuel shortage in Rajasthan.
Specialised fire fighting teams have reached Jaipur from Mumbai and Delhi and have begun assessing the situation.
“The initial assessment suggests that it may take be late in the evening when the entire fuel burns out and we are able to contain the fire,” the IOC official said, adding because of the intensity of the fire it is not possible to get even near the site.
Black clouds of smoke continue to billow from the tanks, and could be seen at from a distance of 10 km on the Jaipur-Tonk highway.
Three foam-carrying fire tenders were rushed from Mathura refinery of IOC, two from Panipat refinery and some fire fighting matter was sent by Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) from Ahmedbad.
The water fire tenders would be used to cool the area and make it accessible for the foam carrying fire tenders, the official said.
“We are ensuring that adequate supplies are maintained,” Mr. Deora said.