3 engineers asphyxiated in water tank

Three technical engineers died and another injured due to asphyxiation as they checked a leak in a water tank at a chemical factory in Harohalli industrial area on Kanakapura Road File photo for representation only

Three technical engineers died and another injured due to asphyxiation as they checked a leak in a water tank at a chemical factory in Harohalli industrial area on Kanakapura Road.

While Lokesh Krishnappa (31), Mahesh Shivamallegowda (28) and Saravana Manohar (24) died in the accident, the injured Arivalagan was admitted to a hospital where his condition is said to be critical.

Lokesh was a native of Kolar, and Mahesh was a resident of Gottahalli in Harohalli while Saravana hailed from Tamil Nadu, the police said.

Police said the incident happened at Anthem BioSciences Private Limited, Unit-2 around 10.30 pm on Tuesday.

Anthem BioSciences, located near Bannikuppe village in Kanakapura taluk in Ramnagaram district, is a manufacturer of medical products.

The large stainless steel water tank was circular in shape and had a diameter of 3 metres, police said.

Lokesh, who works as an engineer, entered the tank using a ladder to check for the leak and collapsed inside the tank. On seeing him unconscious, Mahesh and Saravana entered the tank and passed out. Arivalagan also fainted while half-way into the tank, but was rescued by workers who rushed him to the hospital.

Following information from a company staffer, police got to the spot and began inquiries. They suspect the deaths had happened due to asphyxiation as there was no oxygen inside the tank.

Workers entered the tank wearing masks and retrieved the bodies, the police said. The bodies were shifted to the Victoria Hospital for post-mortem on Wednesday.

The victims who fell unconscious had bitten their tongue. In all, 20 workers were on the nightshift.

News of the deaths triggered panic among workers, including a few relatives of the victims who blamed the deaths on toxic fumes from a chemical reactor. But the management rubbished the allegations, insisting that lack of oxygen in the tank had caused the deaths.

The Harohalli police accused the management of the company for failing to follow safety procedures to protect their employees. They registered an FIR against unknown persons of the company management under IPC section 304-A – accidental death caused by negligence. Further investigations are underway.

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