Pipeline fire: Toll rises to 16, six in critical condition

Pipeline fire: Toll rises to 16, six in critical condition

Pipeline fire: Toll rises to 16, six in critical condition

The death toll in the GAIL pipeline fire tragedy in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh rose to 16 with an injured succumbing today, while six persons were battling for life with severe burns, police said.

At least 15 persons were killed and nearly two dozen others injured when an apparently leaking gas pipeline of GAIL caught fire and triggered a blast in Nagaram village in the coastal district, about 560km from here, yesterday.

"A baby girl, who was undergoing treatment for severe burns, died today at a private hospital in Kakinada. With this the toll in the incident rose to 16," East Godavari District Superintendent of Police G Vijay Kumar told PTI over phone.

The SP said 20 others who suffered burn injuries were undergoing treatment at different hospitals. The condition of at least six of them remains critical as they have suffered around 80 per cent burns.

The leaping flames from the pipeline passing through the village in Mamidikuduru mandal quickly swept through nearby houses and coconut plantations, leaving behind a trail of destruction.

Leaking gas had enveloped some areas of the village and the tragedy occurred when a tea shop vendor lit up a stove, setting off a blast, police had earlier said. 

Meanwhile, Andhra Pradesh Police today filed a fresh case against GAIL, a public sector unit, in connection with the fire-cum-blast tragedy.

It was registered under sections 304A (causing death by negligence), 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 286 (negligent conduct with respect to explosive substance) of the Indian Penal Code, police said.

The case was filed against the state-run gas transporter after examining eye-witnesses, recording statements of relatives of the deceased and carrying out preliminary investigation into the incident, Vijay Kumar said.

"We had yesterday registered a case under section 174 of Criminal Procedure Code (unnatural death) in connection with the incident. The villagers had alleged the gas leakage had been reported in the past few days but no pipeline repairs were taken up (by the company). After initial investigation the sections have been altered," the SP explained.

A special team has been formed to carry out a detailed probe. "We are examining documents relating to the pipelines laid by GAIL. GAIL officials will also be questioned" he said.

Some residents of Nagaram have alleged GAIL had failed to act on their complaints of gas leaks from its pipeline in the past few days.

Police were also ascertaining whether the PSU had taken necessary safety measures for the gas pipeline passing through a populated area.

GAIL officials said the cause of the fire was being thoroughly probed.

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