Blast kills 5 @ Cochin Shipyard

Five persons, including two fire safety officers, were killed following an explosion during routine repairs in an empty ballast tank of Sagar Bhushan, an ONGC oil rig undergoing maintenance at Cochin Shipyard Limited. Seven persons were injured in the blast, of whom one sustained over 45% burns.

The blast happened as the walls of the Pot Water Tank on starboard-1, deep in the bowels of the ship, were being reinforced — the 13-meter high walls were being attached with fresh steel plates — and it is suspected that a combination of acetylene and oxygen (oxy-fuel) gas used for cutting and welding may have caused the blast.

Shipyard sources said that there could have been a leak in one of the hoses through which gas for cutting and welding work is supplied from metal pipes, or residual gas may have been trapped inside the tank.

The deceased have been identified as Unnikrishnan CS, senior fireman at CSL, Gevin Reji, safety assistant and general workers Jayan K B, Kannan M V and Ramshad MM. Sreeroop PT, a general worker, suffered 45% burn injuries and is recuperating at a private hospital. Two more injured persons are still in hospital and four were discharged as they had minor injuries.

An ex gratia of Rs.10 lakh for the kin of the deceased has been promised by CSL. All treatment expenses of the injured will be also be met by the company as per existing policies, company officials revealed.

Sagar Bhushan arrived at Cochin Shipyard on December 7, 2017 for dry dock repairs. It was dry-docked on January 12, 2018 and was to be undocked on February 28, 2018. The work completion was scheduled by April 7, 2018.

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