Patna: Angry villagers ransacked a sugar mill, set afire five vehicles and blocked traffic in Bihar on Thursday after a deadly boiler blast in the mill killed at least five labourers and critically wounded several others. Authorities say the casualty figures might go up further.
Reports said around 100 labourers were working in a privately-owned Sasa Musa sugar mill in Gopalganj district, around 170km north of Patna, when the boiler exploded late Wednesday night apparently due to over-heating.
Doctors said the condition of nine victims admitted to the hospital is very critical as they have suffered 90 per cent burn injuries. “We are trying hard to save them,” a doctor at the local hospital Dr Shahshikant Mishra told the local media.
Witnesses said the impact of the explosion was so powerful that workers were thrown away a long distance. Many workers are said to be still trapped under the debris, reports said.
The police have arrested the owner of the private mill. His two sons also have been taken into custody. But their arrests failed to calm down local villagers.
After the news of the deaths, angry villagers barged into the mill premises and ransacked the mill, damaging valuables machines. They also torched five vehicles and blocked traffic to protest the deaths.
The villagers blame gross negligence on the part of the mill owner for the tragedy. “Last week too some workers were injured in a similar blast yet the mill management failed to take it seriously,” victim families alleged on Thursday. They said they requested many times that old machines be replaced but management didn’t take action.
The state government, in the meanwhile, has ordered an inquiry into the incident and also announced compensation of Rs400,000 (Dh22,917) to each victim’s family.
“The chief minister has rushed a team of officials to the spot for inquiry and severe action will be initiated against the culprits after the probe,” a Press statement issued by the government said on Thursday. The chief minister also expressed grief over the deaths.
The incident is a brutal reminder of a similar boiler blast at an NTPC plant in Uttar Pradesh’s Rae Bareli last month, where 46 people were killed.