Four persons, including a four-year-old child, were killed and 11 others were injured in a boiler blast at a chemical company located close to the railway tracks in Makarpura GIDC area of the city Friday morning. The impact of the blast was felt in a radius of about two kilometres, with several residential buildings reporting cracks, shattered windowpanes and shards of the boiler that flew across a distance of more than a kilometre.
According to police, the blast occurred around 10 am in the boiler of Canton Laboratories Pvt. Ltd, minutes after a passenger train crossed the Vadodara-Mumbai railway line, and was heard up to three kilometres away in Makarpura, Manjalpur and Vadsar areas. Residential colonies and offices located in a radius of about one kilometre felt the impact, authorities said.
The blast brought down the temporary brick structures built to house the workers, instantly killing 30-year-old Varsha Chauhan and her four-year-old daughter Riya. Two workers on duty — Ravi Vasava, 21, and Satish Joshi, 65 — were also killed.
Commissioner of Police, Vadodara city, Shamsher Singh told The Indian Express that police have initiated a process to book the owners of the factory for negligence. “There is gross negligence by the owners as the quarters to house workers — which were temporary structures — were located barely 20 feet from the boiler plant. The woman and her daughter were the only ones in the quarters as the rest of the people were at work. They suffered grievous injuries as the structure collapsed. We are also checking the documents of the company to ascertain if they had the licence to run the boiler,” he said.
Teams of Manjalpur police station, Vadodara Fire and Emergency Services Department Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) and the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) rushed to the spot to ascertain a cause of the blast, which is yet to be known, Singh added. The injured persons undergoing treatment also include a five-year-old child who sustained major injuries.
Makarpura GIDC fire station officer Nikunj Azad said that it prima facie appeared that an imbalance of temperature inside the boiler caused the blast. “The boiler could have overheated due to the improper temperature maintenance. As of now, the electricity supply to the company has been snapped,” Azad said.
Following the blast, several residents rushed out of their premises presuming it was an earthquake as glass window panes of their buildings had shattered. Students and teachers of a private school, located about a kilometre away, also rushed out of the classrooms fearing an earthquake. Residents in colonies located a kilometre away on GIDC road reported that their belongings had crashed on to the floor.
An eye witness, Najma Sheikh, who lives near the railway line, said, “It was a deafening blast. The blast occurred minute after a passenger train passed. Had the train been delayed, there could have been a massive tragedy. The residential buildings developed cracks.”