Eight workers were killed Saturday and at least 8 others critically injured in a high-intensity explosion in Aims Oxygen Private Limited, a company bottling oxygen for hospital and industrial use, located in Padra in Vadodara District, about 30 kilometers from Vadodara city. The FSL team has arrived at the spot to assist the investigation.
According to the police, the incident occurred at around 11 am on Saturday with a loud explosion inside the oxygen gas plant of the company. As many as five workers were killed on the spot and three others succumbed to their injuries at a private hospital, where 10 other injured were rushed for treatment.
An official of the Vadu police said that preliminary investigation has revealed that the blast took place after a fire in the company. ‘The preliminary probe has revealed that a fire engulfed the nitrogen and hydrogen cylinders inside the plant and thereafter spread to the oxygen plant, where the flames came into contact with the oxygen and resulted in a huge explosion. The intensity was so high that it caused a tremor in the vicinity for upto 5 kilometers. The fire department is preparing its report after which we will ascertain if any kind of negligence in handling the elements caused this explosion,’ the official said.
The magnitude of the blast also caused cracks in the window panes of several homes in the village aro. Locals also said that the tremors caused vessels and kitchen items to fall. The metal roof of the plant was also flung in the air and shredded to pieces, police said.
Three deceased belong to the Lola village while one was a native of Muval and another of Gavasa in Padra taluka. The other deceased are yet to be identified. The police official also added that locals have alleged that the company had not provided the workers with any safety gear. Congress MLA Jaipal Thakor, who reached the spot has demanded immediate arrest of the owners and management of the company as well as compensation to the families of the dead.
ACP Sudhir Desai said that the police is conducting a thorough investigation and the owners could be booked for negligence. ‘The Padra and the Vadu police are investigating the case. The owners and those responsible for the safety of the plant will be questioned and the case will be booked as per the investigations,’ Desai said.
The company describes itself as a business entity since 1961, pioneered by the Late Asok Raojibhai Patel. It grew from a small air separation plant to several filling and distribution centres in the state of Gujarat. The group went through a family restructuring in 2016 and now AOPL is spearheaded by Anish Patel; grandson of Asok Patel, with manufacturing plants in Ahmedabad, Halol, Surat and a distribution depot in Rajkot.
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