Five killed in blast on ONGC vessel at Cochin Shipyard

Five killed in blast on ONGC vessel at Cochin Shipyard

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM/KOCHI, DHNS: Five people were killed and 11 others injured in an explosion on board a drill ship at the Cochin Shipyard on Tuesday.

The blast occurred at about 9.30 am when workers were engaged in cutting and welding works in the ballast tank of Sagar Bhushan, a drill ship owned by   Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC).

The vessel was dry-docked at the shipyard to carry out maintenance work.

Madhu S Nair, chairman and managing director of the Cochin Shipyard (CSL), said gas entrapment could have led to the accident.

"Since there  was a loud noise and an explosion, we could be fairly sure that there was gas entrapment. The reasons could be confirmed only through a detailed probe," Nair said.

The deceased, all of them Keralite employees in the shipyard, have been identified as Gavin Reji, M M Ramshad, Unnikrishnan, K B Jayan and Kannan.

The injured are admitted in two hospitals. Doctors monitoring their treatment at the Medical Trust Hospital said the condition of one of them  - who sustained 45% burns  - was critical.

Thick fumes after the explosion reportedly hampered initial stages of operations by the Fire and Rescue Services personnel.

Kochi City Police Commissioner M P Dinesh told reporters that some of the deaths were caused by suffocation due to the fumes.

It is learnt that only contract workers on overtime were involved in maintenance of the ship since Tuesday was a public holiday on account of Mahashivaratri.

The ship was dry-docked on January 12 as part of four-month-long repair works.

The shipyard has been handling maintenance works on the ONGC vessel, built in 1987, for about 25 years.

"All safety procedures are in place at the shipyard. Only a detailed probe will expose lapses, if any, in the standard operating procedure," Nair said.

Minister for Shipping and Water Resources Nitin Gadkari said he had directed Nair to ensure necessary medical support to the victims and immediately initiate an inquiry into the incident.

Separate probes into the incident will be carried out by CSL, the Directorate General of Shipping and the Department of Factories and Boilers.

Nair said Minister of State for Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan was sending an emissary to take stock of the situation.

The CSL management has announced Rs 10 lakh each as compensation to families of the deceased.

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