A blast on Tuesday morning in Oil and Natural Gas Corporation's (ONGC) drillship Sagar Bhushan has claimed five lives and injured another six, say Kerala Police, adding the cause of the incident is yet to be known. The drillship was under repair at Cochin Shipyard's facility in Kochi, Kerala.
According to a police official, one of the workers who has been hospitalised has burnt almost half of his body, while others have minor injuries.
Those with minor injuries have been working on the dock, while those dead were working near a water tank inside the ship. The workers in the hospital were not aware of what happened and just remembered being were thrown away several feets due to the blast, said the official.
The shipyard officials said while a detailed investigation will be carried out, the reason could possibly be gas entrapment in a tank within the ship.
The Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of Cochin Shipyard Madhu Nair said: "The loud explosion noise made it almost certain that there has been gas entrapment. It has to be examined that which gas caused the accident. While who died were working inside the tank, we are yet to find out whether the blast happened inside the tank or outside of it." He said there is no suspicion of a sabotage, at this point in time.
An internal investigation, headed by Suresh Babu N V, director (operations), Cochin Shipyard, will be conducted. The Factories and Boilers Director will also move one part of the investigation. Since it has happened on a ship, the Shipping Ministry will also carry out a technical investigation.
"We follow various safety measures thoroughly, and only through a detailed investigation, will we come to know whether there was any violation of these measures," he said.
The shipyard has announced Rs 1 million to each family of the deceased.
ONGC stated that the blast was in drillship Sagar Bhushan, at 9.15 am, at Cochin Shipyard were it has been dry-docking since December 7, 2017.
"The drillship was undergoing mandatory special survey (hull & machinery) repairs in Cochin Shipyard as per class requirement," it said.
"Minister Nitin Gadkari has directed Cochin Shipyard MD to provide all medical support to victims and initiate an inquiry into the incident," said a Shipping Ministry statement.
Earlier, in 1994, one of the ships that was under repair in the Shipyard caught fire while filling foam. CMD Nair said that ship repairing is considered as one of the most dangerous jobs in the world.
Cochin Shipyard is the largest public sector shipyard in India in terms of dock capacity. The company caters to Indian clients in the defence sector and worldwide clients in the commercial sector. It is also engaged in ship repair operations and is the only commercial shipyard to have undertaken repair works of Indian Navy’s Aircraft Carrier, the INS Viraat and INS Vikramaditya.