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Safety council to probe BARC fire

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BARC fire victim Umang Singh’s father arrives at the JJ Hospital morgue in Mumbai on Wednesday. —
BARC fire victim Umang Singh’s father arrives at the JJ Hospital morgue in Mumbai on Wednesday. —

Special Correspondent

Loud bang puzzles scientists as no explosive materials were stored in laboratory

CHENNAI: The Safety Council of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Trombay, Mumbai, will investigate the cause of the fire in a chemical laboratory on the BARC premises on Tuesday.

The council will also come up with recommendations on how to prevent such incidents, S.K. Malhotra, spokesman, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), said on Wednesday.

The fire resulted in the death of two research students, Umang Singh of Mumbai and Partha Bag of Kolkata.

The chemical laboratory is situated in the third floor of a building called the Modular Laboratory. It had analytical instruments, including spectrophotometers.

“Freak accident”

What is puzzling BARC scientists is that the fire erupted with “a loud bang” although no explosive material was stored in the laboratory. The explosion shattered a couple of windows.

“Everything was burnt. We don’t really encounter such incidents. It is a freak accident. It is baffling how the fire could have erupted,” said Mr. Malhotra. “Sabotage from any angle is not a possibility,” he added.

As for reports that Umang Singh was injured in a minor fire in the same laboratory a few days ago, Mr. Malhotra said he was neither able to confirm nor deny it.


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