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By Taniya Dutta

At least 26 workers were killed and 100 wounded after a boiler exploded and caused massive fire at a thermal power plant in India.

The tragic incident happened at the 500-megawatt unit of the plant number 6 of the state-run National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) plant in Rae Bareily in Uttar Pradesh in northern India on Wednesday.

At least 40 workers were on a routine repair assignment of a faulty boiler when a massive fire broke out in boiler pipe around 3:30 pm causing huge ball of dust and smoke leaking from one corner of it.

The intensity of the explosion was so severe that it immediately engulfed those who were standing near the boiler and covered people standing away from it, in thick ash and gravely injuring them.

More than 150 ambulances were pressed into relief and rescue work and took injured to various local hospitals.

President of the UP Engineers Association, Shailendra Dubey said it was the first major blast in a power plant in the state in which large numbers of people have lost life.

“We’ve constituted team of Magistrate & a Technical Officer, which will conduct a magisterial inquiry into the incident,” Kumar said.

Eyewitness of the disaster said they had never seen such deadly explosion in the power plant before.

“I was working at the plant when I suddenly heard a loud sound. We fell on the ground. There was a huge ball of dust… I fell unconscious,” said Anil Kumar Yadav, 26, who suffered injuries on his hands and legs.

The government has announced a magisterial inquiry into the tragic incident and a compensation of Rs 2 lakh for deceased’s family. Rs 50,000 would be given to the family of the seriously injured.

“…there was sudden abnormal sound at 20 mt. elevation and there was an opening…from which hot flue gases and steam escaped affecting the people working around the area,” the NTPC said in a statement.

The toll could rise further once the blades of the damaged boiler are removed as many labourers are feared trapped inside.

In the wake of the incident, the plant has been shut down.

The plant had started generating power in 1988 with five units of 210 MW each and the sixth unit was commissioned this year.