Hyderabad: A fire broke out in the electric panel inside the 900 MW Srisailam Left Bank Power Station on Thursday night (SLBP) trapping nine electrical engineers of Telangana state power generation corporation (TSGENCO). The powerhouse is located inside the tunnel under the Nallamalla forests on the Telangana side of the Srisailam reservoir on the Krishna river.
State power minister G Jagadeeshwar Reddy rushed to the spot along with TSGENCO Chairman and Managing Director D. Prabhakar Rao and other senior officials. He said that the fire erupted in the electric panel around 10:30 pm, possibly due to a short circuit and it spread to other parts.
There were in all 30 employees inside the powerhouse when the accident took place. While six employees were rescued and brought out of the tunnel, 15 others managed to come out through the emergency exit route of the project.
However, nine others were trapped inside as thick smoke engulfed inside the tunnel, making it difficult for the rescue teams to reach the place, the minister said. As the power supply was stopped, it was completely dark inside, making it difficult for the trapped staff to come out. This is the first of its kind fire accident in an under-tunnel power unit.
The plant has two entrances and one exit. Smoke engulfed the entire stretch. By Friday morning, it started scattering outside. Officials are hopeful that the teams could enter the tunnel if smoke comes out further.
So far, the fire-extinguishers could not control the fire. Ambulances stopped half a kilometer away. “The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams were also summoned but they also made three unsuccessful attempts to enter the tunnel till now. Rescue teams from Singareni Collieries are also expected to join the operation,” Reddy said.’
The rescued electricity employees, including deputy executive engineer Pawan Kumar, plant junior assistant Ramakrishna, junior engineers Mathru, Krishna Reddy, and Venkataiah and driver Palankaiah were shifted to TSGenco hospital at Eegala Penta closer to the powerhouse. They are out of danger.
Deputy executive engineer Srinivas, assistant engineer Sundar and other junior engineers Fatima Begum, Sushma, Venkat Rao, Kiran and Rambabu, and two other employees of a private engineering firm from Hyderabad are among those trapped inside.
“We are praying for their safety”, said power minister Jagadish Reddy.