'It appeared like a volcanic eruption'

'It appeared like a volcanic eruption'

On Friday, around 5:15 am, when the villagers in Nagaram were awakened by the deafening sound of the gas pipeline blast, a few quick calls were made to the local media. 

For Siti cable reporter Ramakrishna Kandula, covering the 12-km distance from Rajole to Nagaram was never as painful.

“I rode my motorbike like a maniac. I had asked my assistant to take pictures of whatever he could with his mobile phone till then. By the time I reached, the fire was still raging. The sound was like the roar of the sea, but with a big difference because of the intense heat. I got off my bike far away and ran towards the village,” recalled Kandula.

Another Express TV contributor was also at the blast site. The two started capturing visuals on the NH-216 that links Amalapuram to Pamarru in Krishna district.

“The fire raged on for almost 45 minutes after we reached. I realised that the camera was heating up and covered it with a wet cloth. We saw people running away from the fire in all possible directions. No one ran towards the road as a rider was burnt to death there,” he added.

The stench of death was evident, and several burnt bodies lay outside the Gail gate, where there used to be a paan shop and tea stall. “On the opposite side, homes were burning, and so were vehicles, trees, wooden doors, curtains — everything,” said Kandula. 

The cameraman in him could gauge the extent of damage. “Coconut trees as tall as 50 ft were on fire, and at the actual blast site, the flames went as high as 50 metres, like a volcanic eruption. After a while, someone called for fire tenders. We noticed that Gail has fire engines, but they had kept them for their own protection as they cannot seek help from outside if something happens on their premises,” he said. 

Finally, help arrived and people started to take the injured to hospitals in Rajole and Amalapuram. The number of those who perished in the fire was noted. “I gave the visuals that I took on my camera and mobile phone to other media members who could not reach in time,” Kandula said.

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