Even as fire-fighters managed to control the blaze at Indian Oil Corporation’s (IOC) Hazira plant on Sunday evening, Union petroleum minister Veerappa Moily visited the site and declared a compensation of Rs5 lakh for the kin of each of the four workers who died in the calamity.
“The fire which broke out in the motor spirit tank of IOC’s bulk storage terminal at Hazira has been fully contained now and is only smoldering. All other tanks are safe," the company said in a statement.
Nominal flames were seen emerging from a tank. “The sludge in tank no. 4 is still burning and so we are spraying water and coolant to extinguish the flames. The situation is under control,” said Pankaj Patel, chief fire officer of Surat Municipal Corporation.
Four contract employees lost their lives in the incident. While the bodies of Jalandhar Chaudhry (38), Ravi Swain (32) and Devendra Giri (34) were handed over to the respective families, one body remained unidentified. Search was on for two missing persons.
Moily reviewed the steps taken by the authorities. “Till now petrol worth Rs35 crore has been destroyed in the fire, while there have been other damages amounting to Rs10 crore,” Moily said, while appreciating the efforts taken to control the fire in a short span of time.
The minister told mediapersons that a committee had been formed to probe the incident. It has been asked to submit its report by January 20.
Apart from Surat and Hazira, fire-fighters from the entire South Gujarat region were used in the operation. About 25 lakh litres of water and 1.80 lakh litres of foam had been used. The Hazira terminal has nine storage tanks: five for petrol and four for diesel. The tank where the blaze started had about 6,000 kilolitres of petrol. Due to wind, the fire subsequently spread to other tanks.
Officials from the South Gujarat Petroleum Dealers Association expressed their apprehension that the mishap would hit the supply of petrol in the region. However, consignment from Mumbai had been diverted to South Gujarat.