Five dockyard workers were killed and one critically injured on Tuesday in a blast on a drill ship dry-docked at Cochin Shipyard (pictured), India’s oldest and largest shipbuilding and maintenance facility. The vessel, ‘Sagar Bhushan’, belonged to the state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC), the country’s largest oil and gas exploration and production company. The explosion occurred around 9.15 am before tea break in a ballast tank where welding operations were going on to cut and join new steel plates. Possible gas leak amid the welding work might be the cause of the blast which sparked a fire sending thick clouds of smoke, the shipyard’s chief managing director Madhu S Nair said. The fire was put out immediately. Preliminary inquiry suggests that the deaths happened due to inhalation of smoke, Kochi Police Commissioner NP Dinesh said. The shipyard announced $14,668 as compensation to the families of the dead and agreed to bear the medical expenses of the four workers injured. The shipyard will conduct its own inquiry while separate investigations will be launched by the department of factories and boilers and the director general of shipping, Nair said.
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