Bhubaneswar, Nov 16:
Labour and ESI minister Bijayshree Routray on Saturday dropped a bombshell when he revealed that five foreign nationals have gone missing since the fire mishap at blast furnace II of the Bhushan steel plant at Kantabania in Dhenkanal district on Wednesday. All five – three from China and two from Thailand – are engineers who were present at the time of the blast that took place inside the plant on Wednesday.
“Though we are still not in a position to confirm the death toll, we have information that five foreign engineers are missing. The Labour Commissioner and an expert team from RSP are investigating the matter,” said Routray.
According to unofficial sources, three Italian nationals, who had been engaged in the commissioning of the blast furnace and were putting up at different hotels, have also gone missing after the blast. But the information could not be independently verified.
Labour Commissioner Shalini Pandit said the inquiry into the actual number of workers inside the plant on the fateful day will take some time since the records provided by the company are full of flaws.
However, Labour and ESI secretary CTM Suguna put the toll at just one. “As per information available with us till now, one person was killed while 17 others injured in the blast are undergoing treatment at different hospitals,” she said.
Reports said the forensic team investigating at the accident site has stumbled upon some human skeletons while sniffer dogs are still foraging the debris to trace out possible human remains.
Meanwhile, relatives of workers who were working at the plant at the time of the accident and have gone missing since then, crowded at the gates of the steel plant searching for their near and dear ones.
Several political parties staged dharna at the factory gate demanding immediate arrest of the promoter of the plant. They also lambasted the government for going soft on the promoters and demanded that the latter should be charged with man slaughter.