Two firefighters of Oil India Ltd lost their lives in the wake of the oil well fire in Assam's Tinsukia district. The oil well had been continually leaking gas for the last 14 days until it finally caught fire on Tuesday. The massive fire thus caused can be seen from 10 km away.
The bodies of the firefighters were discovered at a wetland near the site of the fire. "Their bodies were recovered from a wetland near the site. Prima facie it looks that they jumped in the water and got drowned as there is no mark of burn injury. The exact cause will be ascertained only after a post mortem," Oil India spokesperson Tridiv Hazarika told news agency Press Trust of India.
According to the officials, the fire has been contained in a 1.5 km radius around the site of the incident. However, the fire continues to burn as the gas is still leaking from the oil well.
The Indian Air Force is helping with the firefighting operations while the army is helping the NDRF and the local authorities with the rescue operations. The area has been cordoned off by paramilitary forces.
The gas leak
The well had been continuously spewing out gas or undergoing a blowout since May 27 in Tinsukia district.
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had called up Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan to get foreign experts to repair the damage.
OIL Chairman and Managing Director Sushil Chandra Mishra, on June 8 said three experts from Singapore-based Alert Disaster Control reached Tinsukia district to plug the blowout in the gas well.
On the status of repair work, the PSU major had said arrangements were made to create a water umbrella to control operation. Besides, the preparation of placement of high capacity water pumps was also under progress.
However, poor weather condition was hampering the work progress, according to a statement issued by the company.
Five people have reportedly died due to the gas leak in the area. However, the district administration, where the gas field is present, had ordered a magisterial inquiry on the matter.
According to OIL, it had appointed an environmental consultant to assess the impact of the blowout in nearby areas of the district.
Earlier, pictures of carcasses of a river dolphin and fish in Maguri Motapung Beel, adjacent to Dibru-Saikhowa National Park and about 1.5 km from the site, went viral on social media.
Following this, the Assam Forest department had issued a notice to OIL on May 29 seeking details of the incident.
Since May 27, around 1,610 families were evacuated from the nearby affected areas and were camped in four relief camps set up at Baghjan Dighulturrang LP School, St Joseph School- Baghjan Tea Estate, Gateline LP School-Dighultarrang and No. 1 Baghjan Gaon LP School.
OIL had also assured that it would provide immediate financial relief of Rs 30,000 each to over 1,600 families affected by a major blowout from a gas well in Assam.