Tuesday, Aug 05, 2003
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By Manas Dasgupta
Rescue operations continue at the site of Sunday's multiple building collapse in Surat. PTI
Though the FSL experts have also not agreed with the initial reports that the disaster could have been caused by the bursting of gas cylinders, they also do not believe that it was man-made.
The Surat Police Commissioner, V.K. Gupta, said the FSL experts, who were rushed from Ahmedabad yesterday following the explosion, have concluded in their preliminary reports that the explosion might have been caused by bursting of a furnace or boiler while heating some chemicals. The ground floor of the collapsed building housed an industrial unit manufacturing equipment for diamond cutting and polishing industry. The chemicals required excessive heat, over 900 degree Celsius, for boiling but the temperature in the furnace is believed to have exceeded even that causing the explosion.
The explosion in the furnace led to the bursting of a series of gas cylinders stored in the building as an alternative for heating the furnace when power was not available. Since the building was more than 30 years old and was also weakened by this year's heavy rainfall, it could not withstand the explosion and collapsed causing heavy casualties. Two other adjacent buildings also partly collapsed under impact.
Running an industrial unit with high voltage furnaces in a residential area was illegal. The building itself was unauthorised. Questions are now being asked why the Surat municipality took no action. The owner of the building, who hails from Savarkundla in Amreli district of the Saurashtra region, has been absconding since the explosion. Most of the deceased were also from Saurashtra, mainly Visavadar in Junagadh district, and Amreli while eight were from Barmer in Rajasthan and a few from Mehsana district in north Gujarat.
The Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, visited the explosion site this morning and reviewed the relief and rescue operations. He also called on the injured in the Maskati hospital and instructed the doctors attending on them to provide the best medical attention.
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