Chief operating officer along with two others arrested
STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE
Dhenkanal, 14 November
The district administration is at its wits end in trying to establish the number of casualties in the blast at Bhusan Steel Plant here yesterday even as the police arrested the chief operating officer A K Verma and two other top executives Navin Tyagi and Mahipal Singh.
The company is unable to provide us with any document on the list of workers who were on duty at the site when the blast occurred. They have no rolls or register, most of the workers are contractual laborers and also from outside the state, said a highly placed police officer while insisting that it will take time to try and gather details.
As of now , the official death toll is one. Fifteen others have been injured, added the sources while suspecting that the toll may rise once the list of ‘missing’ people is ascertained.
Laborers and trade union activists suspect that many workers had died in the accident as at least 100 of them were present during the blast. Many laborers disbelieved the official version that only one person had died in the mishap. Where have the others gone ? , they asked.
Dhenkanal, SP, Mr Manoranjan Mohanty, however, asserted that the entire area has been sealed and a thorough check is being done with the help of forensic experts. We will find out how many people were there  by talking to the injured laborers, he said. Mohanty admitted that it is a difficult task. Had they been locals, by now we could have known the numbers, but it appears that many of the laborers are from outside, he added.
The Labor and employment Minister Mr Bijoyshree Routray said director of factory and boilers P C Das had reached the spot to conduct an inquiry. The deputy director had been sent yesterday and today the director has gone there, he said. Orders have been issued to seal the Blast Furnace II where the explosions took place. Except for the water cooling systems , the rest of the Blast Furnace II has been sealed, he said.
The team led by the director Das will also inspect Blast Furnace I, he added. A team of experts from IIT Kharagpur will reach within a week to conduct a safety audit of the plant, said Routray.
Routray said the company has been constantly defying the state government despite several warnings . The minister said he had ordered a thorough safety audit of the plant in April, but it had not been executed.