NTPC boiler blast toll rises to 26; Rahul Gandhi visits Rae Bareli

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Raebareli: The toll in the massive explosion in a boiler at the state-run power giant National Thermal Power Corp.’s (NTPC) Unchahar plant here has risen to 26, a senior official said on Thursday. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has taken a break from his ongoing ‘Navsarjan Yatra’ in poll-bound Gujarat and is visiting Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh to meet the families of the victims of the explosion.

Rae Bareli is the parliamentary constituency of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who has expressed shock at the “terrible tragedy”.

While Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath is abroad, deputy chief minister Dinesh Sharma will be visiting Rae Bareli on Thursday.

UP principal secretary (Home) Arvind Kumar told reporters in Lucknow that the toll in the NTPC boiler blast has risen to 26. The NTPC has initiated a probe to ascertain the reasons behind the blast.

The chief minister had on Wednesday announced Rs2 lakh compensation for the families of those killed and Rs50,000 for the grievously injured.

In a statement, the NTPC has said that at unit number six of its Unchahar plant, there was a sudden abnormal sound at 20-meter elevation around 3.30pm on Wednesday afternoon.

There was an opening in corner number two from which gases and steam “escaped” affecting the people working around the area, the central public sector undertaking said. It added that around 80 people were rushed to the NTPC Hospital, most of whom were discharged after first-aid.

The 1,550MW plant supplies electricity to nine states, according to officials, and employs around 870 people.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that he was “deeply pained” by the accident at the power plant.

Union power minister R.K. Singh, through social media posts, expressed deep anguish at the loss of lives and said that he had directed NTPC chairman and managing director Gurdeep Singh to rush to the site.