Nine bodies have been recovered from the fire-ravaged 6×150 MW Srisailam Left Bank underground hydel station in Telangana, CISF (Central Industrial Security Force) officials confirmed.
They said that a 39-member Fire Rescue and Disaster Management team led by Comdt Siddarth Raha was despatched by the CISF National Industrial Security Academy at Hakimpet to the Srisailam Dam. They left at 8.35 a.m. and reached the dam site at 1p.m.
“They recovered nine bodies from the tunnel and controlled the fire and smoke”, a senior CISF official said.
According to information reaching Hyderabad, a short-circuit in the terminal panel of the fourth unit of the hydel station on Thursday night is said to be the immediate cause of the accident. However, the authorities of TS-Genco said they would arrive at a conclusion only after finding out what exactly happened.
It is learnt that the hydel station staff initially tried to douse the fire in the panel board with the help of portable extinguishers but in vain.
When contacted, Chairman and Managing Director of TS-Genco D. Prabhakar Rao, who rushed there along with a team of top Genco executives in the night, told The Hindu that the cause of the accident was yet to be known and the rescue team was unable to enter the tunnel with a thick sheet of smoke engulfing the tunnel.
Telangana Minister for Energy G. Jagadish Reddy also rushed to the spot in the night. A thick smoke that caused zero visibility obstructed fire-fighting and fire personnel managed to gain entry into the shallow unit after three aborted attempts, he said.
CM expresses shock
In a statement, Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao expressed shock over the accident. “The CM is eliciting information on the accident on a regular basis and wished that all those who are trapped in the plant come out safely,” the CMO said. He spoke to Mr. Prabhakar Rao and Mr. Reddy about the rescue work.
Mr. Rao has ordered a probe by Crime Investigation Department of police.
The authorities of Nagarkurnool district, including District Collector L. Sharman and Superintendent of Police Sai Shekar, rushed there in the night to oversee the rescue operations.
As the fire brought to a halt power generation at the unit that has been going on uninterrupted from July 20, the authorities of the Srisailam dam increased the spillway discharge of flood to over 4.29 lakh cusecs by lifting the 10 gates by three feet each to a total height of 18 feet each. Another 30,000 cusecs is also being let into the river course with power generation in the Right Bank power house of AP-Genco.
The Power Minister was camping at Nagarjunasagar overnight to open the crest gates of the project in the morning in view of heavy inflows caused by rains. The generation at the power house commenced a month ago, when Srisailam, which is on the upper reaches of Nagarjunasagar on the Krishna, started flooding.
The victims are DE Srinivas Goud, Hyderabad; AE Venkatak Rao, Palvancha; AE Mohan Kumar, Hyderabad; AE Uzma Fathima, Hyderabad; AE Sundar, Suryapet; plant attendant Rambabu from Khammam; junior plant attendant Kiran from Palvancha; and Amaran Battery company staff Vniesh Kumar and Mahesh Kumar.
(With inputs from B. Chandrashekhar and Abhinay Deshpande)