Three killed in sugar factory blast at Aska

Berhampur: Three persons, including a woman were killed when a storage tank at a sugar factory at Aska in Ganjam district blast causing huge quantities of molasses to spill over, police said today.

The mishap at Aska Cooperative Sugar Industries Ltd occurred last night and the thick spillage from the 2000 tonne capacity molasses tank gushed into the nearby staff quarters killing the three in their sleep.

The tank is over 50 years old and toxic gas in it coupled with the force of the flow of the molasses was suspected to be the cause of the deaths, the police said. Besides the woman the other two killed were her ten year-old grandson and an eight year-old boy.

Molasses, a left-over of the sugar industry, is the main raw material for preparing rectified spirit and is in high demand in manufacturing country liquor.

Angry locals shouting slogans put up a blockade by placing the bodies on the road and burning tyres. As a result traffic movement on Aska-Bhubaneswar and Aska-Dasapalla roads.

The mill, one of the oldest cooperative sugar mills in the state, was closed by the authorities for the day.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who is campaigning at Aska, Buguda and his assembly constituency Hinjili for the ensuing panchayat elections in the state, cancelled his visit in view of tension in the area following the incident.

Ganjam district collector Kishan Kumar said the chief minister annnounced an ex-gratia of Rs two lakh to the next of kin of the victims.