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Close shave for daily wage worker

Santosh Patnaik
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As soon as the blast occurred, pungent smell made breathing difficult, he says

One of the persons who was critically injured in the blast in Hetero Drugs plant near Nakkapalli being brought to a private hospital in Visakhapatnam on Saturday. —Photo: K.R. Deepak
One of the persons who was critically injured in the blast in Hetero Drugs plant near Nakkapalli being brought to a private hospital in Visakhapatnam on Saturday. —Photo: K.R. Deepak

Chintala Demudlu, a daily wage worker at Hetero Pharma City, escaped major injuries by a whisker. Sheer luck and presence of mind helped him save his life after the blast on Saturday evening that rocked the Pharma City, where several bulk drug units are located.

Recounting his experience, a shell-shocked Demudlu, 35, a native of Pedagumulugu of S. Rayavaram mandal, told The Hindu at ABC Hospital here that after hearing a deafening sound, inhaling smoke and consuming some liquid chemical, he thought he would die. “For a minute, I thought I have to offer my last prayers to the God. Nothing was visible with thick smoke engulfing the entire area in the second floor of the C-block. Then I came in touch with a water pipeline and I decided to slide down. I don’t know what happened later,” he said. He was one among four injured.

The blast killed two on-the-spot. According to Demudlu, the toll and the number of injured would have been more had it happened half-an-hour earlier. As the general shift was over at around 5 p.m., 35 workers among 50 present at C-block left for the canteen. The next shift workers would have come for duty at around 5.30 p.m.

As soon as the blast occurred, pungent smell made breathing difficult. “Immediately I had nausea and reeling sensation. When I regained consciousness, I found myself in an ambulance which brought me here,” he said.

Naveen, a chemist, another injured person, is in a state of shock. “I don’t know how it happened. I was not at the accident spot. I was at a far-off place but got hit due to the smoke and chemicals. The blast generated such a sound that I initially thought the building would collapse,” he said.

Hetero Drugs and Labs Workers’ Union president M. Appala Raju said ever since the Pharma City spread over 480 acres was set up in 2007, the locals had been agitating over regular gas leakage. Living at Rajaiahpeta, Upmaka, N. Narsapuram, Butchirajupeta and Nakkapalli had become difficult due to contamination of drinking water, he said.

“As soon as the blast occurred, pungent smell made breathing difficult”

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