Regional (M.P & C.G)

Death Toll in BALCO Plant Chimney Collapse Rises to 31

The death toll in chimney collapse of the Bharat Aluminium Company (BALCO) in Korba district of Chhattisgarh has gone up to 31, with relief and rescue operations still going on.

Ashok Agrawal, District Magistrate, said that rescue operations were on to save those who are still trapped in the wreckage.

“The rescue operation is on. Ambulances have taken the injured to the hospital. We are doing our best to save the trapped workers. 10 bodies have been recovered so far. We are hopeful to get the debris cleared within two days,” said Agarwal

Eyewitnesses said that at the time of accident, there was heavy rain and a lighting strike could have led to collapse of the chimney.

“While I was walking near my house I could see the chimney crashing. It fell like a stick. It was difficult to reach the spot. Around 150-200 labourers came out running and we could see mangled bodies of six to seven men. We then tried to remove the rubbles,” said Narendra Mishra, an eyewitness.

The BALCO is building the plant in Korba, situated some 250 km north of state capital Raipur.

It is estimated that over 40 workers are still feared trapped under the debris. Rescue operations are going on and cranes of National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), Chhattisgarh Power Company and South-Eastern Coal Fields have swung into action.

In the wake of incident, an FIR has been lodged against BALCO and the state government has also ordered a judicial probe into the matter.

The chimney collapsed when about 100 workers and engineers were engaged in the construction work of the chimney, reportedly executed by a Chinese company named SEPKO.

Officials involved in constructing the chimney said that the structure was to be 275-metre tall. The chimney was already 100-metre tall when it collapsed amid heavy rain.

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