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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2589

18 killed, 30 injured in AP blaze after gas pipeline bursts

By Malladi Rama Rao
New Delhi, 28 June (Asiantribune.com)

A 20-year –old gas pipeline burst yesterday on the Andhra Pradesh coast and the leaping flames at Nagram village some short distance from Rajhamundry town quickly swept through nearby houses and coconut plantations, leaving behind 18 dead and at least 30 with severe burns.

The dead include three women and three children

Federal Minister for Petroleum Dharmendra Pradhan has ordered a high-level inquiry headed by a Joint Secretary in his ministry.

The 18- inch pipeline belonged to the state-owned Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL); it feeds gas from the off-shore wells in the Godavary basin to a power plant near Vijaywada.

The blast took place at around 5AM; within 15 minutes, “everything was gutted”. 13 persons were charred to death in their houses. Two others died of burn injuries a while later.

Such leakages, big and small, are regular in the region. One major blow out at Pasarlapudi near Amalapuram in the mid-1990s had lasted for about two months.

Locals complained that the pipelines that feed gas to various utilities from the off-shore wells in the Godavary basin are poorly maintained with no much attention to pipe junctions which are vulnerable to leakages.

Angry villagers staged a protest at the Gas Collection Station (GCS) near Nagarm village; a few vehicles parked there were damaged. Some villagers even tried to attack GAIL’s local office with stones but timely police intervention saved the situation from turning ugly.

In the blame game that has started, the local government has pointed its fingers at the GAIL officials with the deputy chief minister, N. Chinarajappa, who is also the state home minister, criticised that the locals had complained of leakage just three days back but the company carried out some perfunctory repairs.

The Chief minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu, who was here for discussions with the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, air dashed to the accident site, met the families of the blast victims and gave a patient hearing to the their tale of woes.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has conveyed condolences to the bereaved families. “My thoughts (are) with the families of those who lost their lives in the GAIL pipeline fire in AP. (My) prayers (are) with the injured,” he said in a tweet.

And announced an exgratia relief of Rs two lakh from the PM’s Relief Fund for the next of the kin of the dead and Rs 50,000 to the injured in the accident.

- Asian Tribune -

18 killed, 30 injured in AP blaze after gas pipeline bursts
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