KAKINADA: In a major blast in a gas pipeline 14 people were burned alive and 15 others received severe burns at Nagaram village of Mamidikuduru mandal of East Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh on Friday morning.
Villagers woke up to deafening noise and huge flames after the pipeline belonging to Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) suddenly caught fire near an ONGC connecting station. Villagers allege negligence on the part of officials as the pipeline developed rust and authorities failed to replace it.
A pall of gloom descended on Mamidikuduru mandal with people running in panic and wailing for help as huge flames engulfed an entire village trapping about 30 people, and burning hundreds of tall coconut trees and reducing about 50 houses and shops to ashes. Many birds and domestic animals were feared burnt in the mishap as flames rose to as high as 250 metres, villagers told media.
The state government rushed in senior officials to the accident spot to take up immediate relief and rescue operations. Fire fighting personnel from half a dozen fire stations fought to tame the flames. Villagers recall the gas pipeline blowout in the district about two decades ago where flames continued to rage for several days.
“As per initial reports we have received, 14 deaths have been reported and some more are critically injured and undergoing treatment,” Andhra Pradesh finance minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu told reporters.
According to an official of the East Godavari district, the administration has recovered 13 bodies from the accident site while another death was reported from the hospital where the injured are being treated.
East Godavari district collector Neetu Kumari Prasad told PTI that the incident took place in the early hours.
“As of now the fire has been brought under control. Fire engines were rushed to the spot and rescue operations are underway,” Prasad said.
The accident occurred at Nagaram village in Amalapuram Mandal, she said, adding that three persons are critically injured.
The injured have been rushed to hospitals in Amalapuram, Kakinada and Rajahmundry. The government assured better medical treatment to the injured. AP chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu reviewed the situation with senior officials and express shock over the mishap. He also condoled the death of people. Leader of opposition YS Jaganmohan Reddy too expressed shock over the accident.
Heavy property loss has been reported. The exact quantum of damage is however being assessed.
All the injured have been rushed to a nearby hospital, the collector said.
CM orders inquiry:
Andhra Pradesh’s chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Friday ordered an inquiry to ascertain the reasons for the gas pipeline blast in the Nagaram region of the state’s Guntur district. He expressed shock over the loss of lives in the incident. Naidu, who is now on a visit to Delhi, reviewed the situation with the collector and senior officials. He also asked state deputy chief minister N Chinarajappa and the collector to rush to the spot to monitor the relief operation.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also extended his condolences to the bereaved families of the victims and to the families of the injured survivors. He is reported to have told the concerned GAIL authorities to ensure relief at the accident site.
(With inputs from agencies)