In a tragic incident, five people were killed in an explosion on a drill ship at the Cochin Shipyard at around 10am on Tuesday morning.
The deceased were all workers at the shipyard. They have been identified: Unni, a native of Eroor, in Kochi, Jayan, hailing from Thuravoor in Alappuzha, Jebin from Kottayam, Ramshad from Vypine and Kannan.
Unni and Jayan worked as firemen in the shipyard, while Ramshad was a supervisor and Jebin was a contract labourer.
According to preliminary reports, there were 20 people on board the ship when the explosion occurred. Thirteen people were injured, one of whom is critical. The others have suffered minor burns.
The drill ship, Sagar Bhushan, is owned by ONGC and has been docked at the dry dock of the shipyard since December 7.
Speaking to reporters, Madhu S Nair, Chairman of Cochin Shipyard said that the explosion took place inside the tank of the ship.
He said, "We have been carrying out maintenance work for days together inside the tank. So at this point it is unclear what caused the fire. There should be a detailed inquiry."
The Chairman went on to say that Jayan, one of the victims had informed his supervisor Unnikrishnan that there was gas inside the tank. "We believe Unnikrishnan went inside to sort it out. The tank had only water. There was no explosive substance at all," said Madhu.
He said welding work had been going on at the time of the explosion. "All safety precautions were taken. We will do a thorough inquiry. An inquiry committee has been constituted led by Director Operations."
"Despite today (Tuesday) being a holiday, we ensured that the injured get immediate treatment," said Madu, adding that that it took time for officials to idenitfy the bodies.
Police officials and firefighters rushed to the spot and all the injured have been shifted to hospitals.
The deceased have been moved to a hospital near the shipyard. The Chairman said that all medical expenses will be borne by the shipyard.
Press briefing by Cochin Shipyard Chairman
City police commissioner MP Dinesh told media outside Cochin shipyard that the situation has been brought under control: "The fire has been doused already. We believe the deaths happened due to suffocation caused by smoke. That's what we primarily understand. Situation is under control."
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan expressed his grief over the deaths.
CM Pinarayi Vijayan expressed grief over the tragedy in Cochin Shipyard. He offered his condolences to the families of those who lost their lives.— CMO Kerala (@CMOKerala) February 13, 2018
Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari tweeted saying he had asked the Managing Director of the shipyard to speak to the agencies concerned and begin an inquiry into the explosion.
Shocked by unfortunate blast at Cochin Shipyard where 4 people have died. My heartfelt condolences to bereaved families. I have spoken to MD,Cochin Shipyard n asked him to provide all necessary medical support to victims n to initiate immed inquiry with help of concerned agencies— Nitin Gadkari (@nitin_gadkari) February 13, 2018