Cell phone use may have caused Hazira fire: Report

Hazira fire

A high-level committee formed by the Ministry of Petroleum to probe the January 5 IOC fire incident at Hazira in Surat has mentioned in its report that use of mobile phones might have caused the fire in a tank that contained 5,000 kilo litres of petrol.

Four mobile phones were recovered from the spot, of which, two were totally damaged.

A three-member committee comprising executive director of Oil Industry and Safety Hirak Dutta, former chief fire officer of Delhi government R K Sharma and the Joint Controller of Explosives (Nagpur) had visited the site on January 14. They submitted their report to the ministry a couple of days ago.

IOC sources said the report states that use of mobile phones by the team of welders carrying out maintenance work at the depot could have triggered the fire. These contractual workers managed to breach the security and entered the site with cellphones, they added.

Earlier, the Surat police had arrested IOC terminal manager Prashant Pandey, assistant engineers Khomesh Dengre, Anurag Chandak (the three were suspended by the company for negligence days after the incident), and security officers Jaspalsingh Gajraj Singh and Birendra Sengre.

Assistant Commissioner of Police M A Munshi said, "We had recovered four mobile phones from the spot, of which two were badly damaged. Two of the mobile phones belonged to deceased Devendra and Jalandhar. We have found that on the day of the incident, a call of about six minutes was made from one of the mobile phones recovered from the site. IOC authorities at Hazira failed to notice the lapse in security. Security personnel had not checked the welders carrying mobile phones at the maintenance site. The IOC violated the Oil Industry Safety Directorate standards."

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