Rae Bareli: The death toll in the NTPC boiler blast here in Uttar Pradesh rose to 26 on Thursday, with more injured workers succumbing to their burn injuries, officials said.
Doctors warned that the toll was likely to rise further as more than a dozen contractual labourers were battling for life with more than 90 per cent burn wounds.
District Magistrate Sanjay Kumar Khatri told IANS that the number of injured in the Wednesday tragedy at the state-run National Thermal Power Corp (NTPC) plant stood at 64.
The massive explosion took place in a 500 MW boiler unit in Unchahar town on the Lucknow-Allahabad highway. Many were trapped when a fire erupted in the boiler and a huge ball of dust rose after the blast, making the rescue operations difficult.
Khatri said the authorities were now focussing on providing the best possible treatment to the injured.
The Uttar Pradesh government has announced Rs 2 lakh each to the families of the dead, Rs 50,000 each to the critically injured and Rs 25,000 to those who suffered minor injuries. They will all get free treatment at government hospitals.
Angry locals and family members of the injured alleged that there was a complete absence of medical facilities at the NTPC campus, which pushed up the number of casualties.
On Thursday, contractual labourers at the plant raised slogans against the NTPC management. They claimed they had warned about an impending disaster at unit six as the temperature near the furnace had been steadily rising.
The NTPC has launched a probe into the incident, which it said took place due to "access ash deposition" in the furnace. The state government has ordered a magisterial probe.
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday visited Rae Bareli after cutting short his Gujarat tour and met family members of the victims, party sources said.
Rae Bareli is the Lok Sabha constituency of his mother and Congress President Sonia Gandhi. She may not visit the constituency as she is reportedly unwell.
Sonia Gandhi's daughter Priyanka Vadra is also scheduled to visit Rae Bareli.
Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma also called on the injured at the district hospital.
Three senior officials of the NTPC who suffered critical injuries are being flown in an air ambulance to Medanta Hospital in Gurugram near Delhi.