IOC's Rajasthan depot still ablaze; at least 6 dead

The fire at the Indian Oil depot in the Sitapur industrial area near Jaipur in Rajasthan continued to rage today, a day after it broke out. Casualty figures ranged from six to 12, with another 150 persons injured.

The blaze, which broke out at 7.15 pm, has engulfed the nearby Agro food centre and a power grid. The fire is likely to have been caused by a minor earthquake in the area, but authorities are also investigating the possibility that a stray firecracker may have triggered it.

The fire was of great intensity and the flames could be seen from a distance of over 15 km. Black clouds of smoke were billowing from the tanks, and could be seen from the Jaipur-Tonk highway.

Petroleum minister Murli Deora visited the injured at the government-run Sawai Man Singh Hospital in Jaipur, and said it would be another day or two before the blaze could be brought under control.

He added that six workers of the Indian Oil depot were still trapped and that their chances of survival were bleak. "There is no option but to let the fuel burn. It will take a day or two before the fire could be brought under control," Deora told reporters here.

The depot had 7,000 kilolitres of petrol, 24,000 kilolitres of diesel and 1,000 kilo litres of kerosene.