Chemical-laden tanker topples in Yellapur, sparks fire

Chemical-laden tanker topples in Yellapur ghat, sparks massive fire

The tanker was transporting benzene, a highly inflammable material from Mangaluru-based MRPL to Ahmedabad in Gujarat

Firemen try to douse the blaze in a stream following a tanker accident at Aarathibail Ghat on NH-63 near Yellapur in Uttara Kannada district on Wednesday. Credit: DH Photo

Paddy crops and several coconut, areca, mango and jackfruit trees were gutted after the chemical slick on a stream caught fire and spread to the farmlands following a tanker mishap at Aarathibail ghat on National Highway 63 near here in the early hours of Wednesday.

The tanker was transporting benzene, a highly inflammable material from Mangaluru-based MRPL to Ahmedabad in Gujarat. The driver and co-driver of the tanker escaped with minor injuries in the mishap.

The chemical spilled into a nearby stream when the when the vehicle toppled at one of the ghat turns. Chemical slick on the stream caught fire and soon the blaze engulfed the tanker. The crash happened at 5.30 am with a deafening sound and was heard as far as 2 km away from the spot, according to the locals.

Paddy crop on six guntas of land, owned by S S Bhat, a Home Guard, near Baleshwar Temple was completely gutted in the blaze. Also, a pumpset and several full-grown trees including areca, coconut and jackfruit trees and adjoining forest were reduced to ashes. Similarly, the horticultural crops cultivated by Manjunath Gowda, Narayan Bhat and Vishwanath Bhat were damaged in the accidental fire.

Vehicular movement on the busy NH 63 was stopped for over three hours. Fire engines from Yellapur, Mundgod and Sirsi were roped in to douse the fire.


Meanwhile, minister Shivaram Hebbar visited the spot and instructed Tahsildar Srikrishna Kamkar to provide suitable compensation to the farmers who have lost crop and trees in the fire.

“I have instructed the KSPCB officials to study the impact of chemical spill into the stream. Also, I am in touch with MRPL company on the crash and the chemical spill,” the minister said.

Water samples

A team of officials from the Factories and Boilers department from Hubballi, MRPL, Mangaluru, KSPCB and Grasim Industries at Binaga visited the spot and collected water samples from the stream that caught fire for analysis.

A chemical has been sprayed into the stream to mitigate the impact of benzene. The tanker has been moved to a safer place.

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