At least five persons died and many others are feared trapped inside a cold storage building, which collapsed near Kanpur on Wednesday after an explosion apparently due to high pressure in an ammonia gas "receiver", police said.
The building at Shivrajpur was crowded when the tragedy occurred as many farmers were there to stock the potato harvest. Nine injured have been pulled out in the rescue operation, which was initially hit by leakage of ammonia gas from the cold storage.
Prima facie, police officials told IANS, it appeared that the "receiver" of ammonia gas in the cold storage exploded due to high pressure and it brought down the four-storey building.
Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Ramayan Singh, while confirming the death of five persons, said the others were being treated for serious injuries at the Hallet hospital.
A team of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) is at the accident site to pull out people from the rubble. Around 12 JCB machines have also been pressed into service to clear the debris
According to SP (Rural) Rajesh Kumar, the gas leak started in the chiller plant led to an explosion at the Katiyar Cold Storage in Shivrajpur area of Kanpur earlier in the afternoon. In the resulting explosion, the roof of the structure collapsed. Several people are feared trapped in the debris, and the fire brigade personnel are carrying out rescue and relief operations, Kumar said.
According to a report in a Hindi daily, Amar Ujala, over 100 workers are feared trapped in the debris. Two new chambers were constructed recently, which caved in after an ammonia gas cylinder burst. The report further adds that amid those trapped, a number of workers hail from the neighbouring state of Bihar. The chances of casualties due to ammonia gas poisoning can also not be ruled out at the moment.
People on the spot alleged that while the capacity of the cold storage was one lakh sacks of potato, there was much more stocked, which apparently led to more pressure on the gas receiver inside. However, a probe into these charges is yet to be issued, with the administration now focusing on the rescue operations.
Owner of the cold storage Lalla Katiyar is absconding after the incident.
Another Hindi news website Bhaskar.com, reported that the license of the storage owner has been suspended, till an enquiry is conducted into the cause of the gas leak and explosion. The report also said that the storage facility was built only last year.
The injured have been taken to Halet hospital in the city. The hospital has also been put on alert as the number of those injured is expected to rise.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Mar 15, 2017 22:34 PM