Special Correspondent

Blaze engulfs workers engaged in welding operations

AHMEDABAD: Four workers were killed and 16 injured, some of them critically, in a fire in the pipeline area of the Essar refinery at Vadinar in Gujarat on Wednesday night.

An Essar group spokesman said the accident did not affect the functioning of the refinery.

The blaze occurred around midnight about three km away from the main refinery in a section of a 18-km-long pipeline network when workers were engaged in welding operations. The pipelines carry crude from the Vadinar port to the refinery and refined petroleum products back to the port.

Apparently there were some mistakes in flushing the pipelines before opening the valves, causing leak of some highly inflammable gaseous material. The fire was caused by sparks from the welding work nearby.

Despite being an open area, the fire engulfed about 35 workers doing the welding job. Four of them died on the spot while 16 suffered burns. At least three of them with over 50 per cent burns were said to be critical.

The critically injured were airlifted to Mumbai.

The spokesman said the victims of the accident were all employees of contractors. However, necessary compensation would be paid to the dead as per the company rules and agreement with the contractors.