2 inhale poisonous gas, die in Lawrence Road mill

Two workers of a flour mill at Lawrence Road in northwest Delhi were killed on Tuesday night after they inhaled poisonous gas.

The bodies of the two workers — identified as Bebal Khan, 35, and Mobin Khan, 30 — were pulled out of the tank by fire fighters after a struggle of five hours around 2am on Wednesday. Police have arrested the factory owner and supervisor.

Chief fire officer of the Delhi Fire Services, Atul Garg said that they got a call around 9.20pm that said that two men had fallen unconscious while working at the factory and were stuck inside a storage tank.

“A team of 15 men and six fire tenders were rushed to the mill to initiate the rescue. It is a three-storey building. It also had grinding machines, drying tools and vacuum on the terrace. The tank was in the basement of the mill. It had only one entry and exit point, and was 12 feet deep,” Garg said.

Ashok Kumar Jaiswal, assistant divisional officer, who was in-charge of the rescue operation, said the factory supervisors and other staff of the factory told us that there was raw material stored in the tank with some chemicals used for treating it.“He said since the tank was not opened for more than 7-8 months, the raw material probably started rotting and reacted with the chemical to produce poisonous gases,” Jaiswal said.

Jaiswal said that when his men prepared to go inside the tank with their breathing apparatus, they could not pass through the entry door as it was very small. “The wall of the tank was built of concrete and was 14 inches thick. We used hydraulic tools to drill through it. We then arranged an oxygen tank from an ambulance and it was connected with an 8-10 metre long pipe. Our men then crawled in and pulled out the two men,” Jaiswal said.

The men were administered CPR but could not be revived.

Deputy commissioner of police (northwest) Vijayanta Arya said by then police teams had also reached the spot to assist in the rescue operation. “We rushed the two labourers to Bhagwan Mahavir hospital where they were pronounced dead. We have registered a case of causing death due to negligence under section 304 (A) and Paras, the owner of the mill and his supervisor Anoop have been arrested,” Arya said.

Police said that the two men hailed from a village close to Jaipur in Rajasthan.

Mobin Khan was all set to return home on June 1 to visit his mother. “His mother is blind. She had not seen him for at least a decade, ever since she lost her eyesight. He had collected some money and was to get his mother operated when went home this time. This would have been the first time his mother would have seen him after a decade. Now she will not be able to see him ever,” said Babu Khan, Mobin’s uncle.

He said that Mobin is survived by his wife and two daughters, one 3-month-old and another 3-year-old. He has a younger brother and was the only earning member of the family.

It was Mobin Khan who was the first to enter the tank. Bebal went after Mobin, when he realised that he might have fainted , said Imamuddin, Bebal’s
elder brother who also works at the same mill as a quality manager.

Imamuddin said that a portion of the mill — in which the tank was located — had not been used for a very long time and the owner had decided to get it up and running again on Tuesday.

“On Tuesday night, the man who was appointed to clean the tank was not available. So Mobin entered the tank. Those who were present at the spot told me that the moment Mobin entered, he inhaled poisonous gases and fell from the ladder. Seeing this Babel rushed in and also fell unconscious,” he said. Imamuddin said the tank was locked for at least 8 months. “It was a storage tank for raw material, which was yet to be grinded. It looks like the raw material was rotting and as it had been treated with chemicals, it generated poisonous gases,” he said.

First Published:
May 23, 2019 02:58 IST

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