Mumbai: 18-year-old welder, 14-year-old aide killed as fuel tank explodes

Incident occurred at Om Sai Service Centre, Chembur, where the welder was trying to fix a petrol tanker with the help of the cleaner; explosion left three passers-by injured and destroyed roofs of several huts in the vicinity

Two teenagers aged 14 and 18 lost their lives in a freak mishap after the fuel tank of a petrol tanker exploded in Chembur last morning. The deceased were identified as truck cleaner Manish Patel (14) and welder Shakeel Khan (18). Patel was assisting Khan to fix the tank.

The intensity of the explosion was such that it ripped the fuel tank of the vehicle into two, claiming Patel and Khan’s livesThe intensity of the explosion was such that it ripped the fuel tank of the vehicle into two, claiming Patel and Khan’s lives

Both the teenagers were declared dead on arrival at the Sion Hospital. The impact of the explosion was such that it left three passers-by injured and destroyed roofs of several huts in the vicinity. Moreover, members of the Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad (BDDS), officials from the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) and RCF police station rushed to the service centre located on the L U Gadkari Road.

Sources from the police station claimed that the noise was such that almost all the on-duty police personnel in the area thought that a bomb had exploded. Officials from the RCF police station said the other mechanics at the Om Sai Service Centre claimed that the explosion occurred while Khan was trying to the fix the tank. They said the tragedy could have been averted had he flushed the tank with water, after emptying the fuel, before initiating the repair work.

Cop speak
An officer from RCF police station said, “We got a call around 10.45 am, following which a team was rushed to the spot. Prima facie investigation revealed that the explosion occurred due to the welder’s negligence, as he failed to clean the tank from inside.

Whatever little fuel was left inside the tank, exploded the moment he used a blow torch to fix it.” The cops have booked the service centre owner, identified only as Mishra, under Section 304A (causing death by negligence) of the Indian Penal Code.

Owner booked
Senior Police Inspector Dilip Raut from RCF police station, said, “We booked the owner, as it was his responsibility to ensure that all his workers adhered to the safety protocol while repairing vehicles. Secondly, the place lacked sand, mud, and easy access to water, which would have helped the employees to douse the fire.”

Phase conductors damaged
A statement was issued by Tata Power soon after the rear half of the exploded fuel tank damaged the phase conductors near the service centre.

It read: “On May 19, 2015, at 10:13 hours, 22 kV Chembur-Calico 1 line tripped due to an explosion on LU Gadkari Road in Chembur Area (Behind HPCL). The explosion was caused by sparks due to ongoing welding work on a parked tanker.

The blast inside the tank threw a major portion of the rear side of the tank towards the Tata Power feeder, where phase conductors have been heavily damaged. Repair work has been immediately under taken and shall be completed by today (Tuesday) evening. The damaged portions of phase conductors will be replaced.

The main cause of explosion was the welding work on the tanker leading to damage to Tata Power infrastructure as well. Tata Power is committed towards safety and security of its customers and communities in the city.”

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