Fire-ravaged AP village resembles war zone

Last Updated 27 June 2014, 19:45 IST

The blast in the Gail pipeline was so intense that dozens of vehicles parked outside houses in the village were burnt and around 50 shops and houses were damaged.

A small hotel, where the fire started, was gutted and a father and his daughter riding on a bike were incinerated within seconds.

Many victims died in their sleep. The injured were rushed to hospitals in Kakinada, Amalapuram and Rajole.

“We were sleeping when the blast occurred only a few metres away from our house. We ran out as soon as we heard the sound,” said S Manikyala Rao. All the curtains and the bed sheets in the house were burnt.

“It took only few seconds to injure all of us,” says Vadrevu Venakataratnam. He said the fire caused major damage to  things at the ground level.

“Even though the blast hit the palm trees and burnt them, the real damage can be seen at the ground level,” said Krishna Kishore, a student who travels on the Nagarm–Jagganapet road, often used by ONGC trucks.

“I was lucky because I had just entered the house and closed the door,” Lakshmi, daughter of Vakati, recalled. Their house is on the other side of the road.

Vakati said that he was sleeping when the blast occurred. “All the equipment in our digital studio, which was the means for earning our daily bread, were burnt down,” he rued.

The young men of the village alleged that the ONGC officials have been covering the leaking pipelines with sand and soil. “The village was sitting on a volcano, the whole east Godavari district has pipelines criss-crossing beneath it,” they said seething with anger.

It took 10 fire tenders to bring the fire under control. Meanwhile, a cumulative ex gratia of Rs 25 lakh was announced for the kin of the dead and Rs 50,000, for the severely injured.

The following bodies were identified so far: Varanasi Adinarayana, Chinnababu, Srilakshmi, Tatikayala Satyanarayana, Jadikanti Vasu, V Raju, V Rudra, Satyavathi, Maddalla Balaji and Gopireddy Vijay Teja.

(Published 27 June 2014, 19:45 IST)

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