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Indian power plant blast kills 18, up to 100 injured

The 1,550 megawatt (MW) plant supplies electricity to nine states, according to the company’s website, and employs 870 people.

Smoke billows from a coal-fired power plant after a boiler unit exploded in the town of Unchahar in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh on 1 November 2017. Picture: AFP

NEW DELHI - An explosion at an Indian coal-fired power plant operated by state-run NTPC Ltd on Wednesday killed 18 people and injured up to 100 in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, in one of the country’s most deadly industrial accidents in recent times.

Among those injured, 22 with severe burn injuries have been sent to the state capital Lucknow for treatment, while 15 are in another hospital within the district, Uttar Pradesh police said on a verified Twitter account.

“Total number of casualties could go up once the blades of the boiler are cut,” the state’s police said, adding that 18 people have been confirmed dead by the district administration.

The 1,550 megawatt (MW) plant supplies electricity to nine states, according to the company’s website, and employs 870 people.

“Ash had piled up in the furnace beneath the boiler, which then led to building up of pressure resulting in the explosion,” Anand Kumar, a top state police official said in a youtube video posted on Twitter.

Three units with a combined capacity of 630 MW are continuing to operate, while a 500 MW unit that was hit by the explosion has been shut down.

The boiler where the explosion happened has been in operation since around April this year, NTPC said.

India’s largest power producer said there was a “sudden abnormal sound” at a unit in the plant in the town of Unchahar around 3:30 in the afternoon, and flue gases and steam “escaped” during the incident.

Around 90-100 people were injured, Arvind Kumar, Uttar Pradesh’s top bureaucrat handling law and order, told Reuters.

NTPC said electricity supply is not likely to be impacted as other facilities across the state will make up for the power shortfall due to the unit’s shutdown.

Other units at the plant are either under scheduled maintenance or are not operating currently due to lack of demand, NTPC said.

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