Six people were killed, eight injured and 20 feared trapped when a cold-storage facility collapsed in the Kanpur’s Shivrajpur area after a gas leak triggered an explosion.
According to SP (Rural) Rajesh Kumar, the gas leak started at the Katiyar Cold Storage in the afternoon.
Five seriously injured labourers, rescued between 4pm and 6pm, were brought dead, chief medical officer Ramayan Prasad said.
“So far, teams have rescued 13 people. Our focus is on getting out others safely,” Kanpur district magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma said.
Teams of the National Disaster Relief Force and the Provincial Armed Constabulary were carrying out rescue and relief operations, Kanpur SSP Akash Kalahari said.
A team of doctors was also rushed to the site and local hospitals put on alert.
Workers at the facility talked about a massive explosion bringing down the building, which was built last year. “The ground beneath was shaking, luckily I was near the entrance,” Hori Lal, a worker, said.
Casualties could have been higher as a rail track runs close to the building. Passengers jumped off a train that was passing through the area as soon as they heard the loud noise, sources said.
“Engine pilot applied emergency brakes otherwise there could have been casualties,” an official said.
Initial findings said an ammonia leak caused the explosion that brought down the entire building. People living in a nearby village complained of breathlessness and nausea and were given face masks. They were asked to move out till the effect of gas subsided.
Ammonia is used in refrigeration systems.