Suryakant Jena

Bhubaneswar: A loud explosion ripped through a petrol pump station near Raj Bhawan in the State capital today noon.

As many as three fire tenders have been pressed into service to douse the flames at the spot after a huge fire spit out from the spot following the explosion.

Many people have suffered serious injuries during the mishap, said Twin City Police Commissioner Sudhansu Sarangi. All injured are being shifted to Capital Hospital through ambulances.

CP Sarangi informed that one of the two CNG storage tanks exploded causing the fire to spread. In order to prevent any further mishap and fire outbreak to the nearby situated petrol and diesel tanks, the entire stretch of road between Raj Bhawan and Capital Hospital has been cordoned off by the police.

Many vehicles including bikes and four-wheelers have been blown away in the impact of the blast that eye-witnesses and passersby said it was like an earthquake. Some local shops are also stated to have suffered damages due to the explosion.

Bhubaneswar DCP Umashankar Dash said that people nearby the spot of the blast have been vacated to ensure safety. The situation is under control.

An eye-witness who was filling petrol in his bike at the station narrated the blast horror. "It initially felt like an earthquake and suddenly before we could realise a sudden explosion rocked the entire area causing blindness before our eyes. People filling fuel scurried wherever they could amid the panic. This is the first time in my life I encountered such a mishap. Thankfully I survived."

Capital Hospital director Laxmidhar Sahoo said at least 8 injured were brought to the medical for treatment. Of them, two have sustained critical burn injuries and efforts are on to shift them to Cuttack SCB Hospital. The rest of them are undergoing preliminary treatment and they will be discharged soon.

IOCL and fire department officials are thoroughly inspecting the blast site to check if there are any other loose points at the remaining intact CNG storage tanks and nearby petrol pump which might further aggravate the situation.

Soon after the incident, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik declared that free treatment will be provided to all the injured.  
(This is a developing story. Stay tuned for updates.)