(Eds: Updating toll, adding more quotes, SAIL statement) Raipur, Oct 9 (PTI) Nine people were killed and 14 others injured Tuesday in a blast at the Bhilai Steel Plant of state-owned SAIL in Chhattisgarh’s Durg district, police said.

The explosion took place around 10:30 am in a gas pipeline connected to the coke oven section of the plant in Bhilai town, around 30 km away from the state capital, Inspector General of Police (Durg Range) G P Singh told PTI.

“At least nine people were burnt to death while 14 others received injuries and most of them were said to be in a serious condition,” he said.

SAIL in a statement said, “In an unfortunate incident around 10.30 am, today at SAIL Bhilai Steel Plant, there was a fire in a gas pipe line of the Coke Oven Battery Complex No 11 during a scheduled maintenance job.” “Some persons working at the site sustained burn injury… So far, nine persons have lost their lives and 14 are undergoing medical treatment,” it said.

Singh said as per preliminary information, over 24 employees were working at the spot when the accident occurred. Some persons working at the site suffered burn injuries, the SAIL statement said, adding that those injured were immediately rushed to the BSP hospital for medical care and aid.

Resources have been mobilised to provide adequate care to the injured, it said.

“SAIL collective stands by the families of the affected and will ensure that and no stone is left unturned in providing all kinds of support,” the statement said.

Police personnel and a rescue team are at the spot, Singh said.

Rescue operation are underway at the plant, operated by the state-run Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL).

Steel Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh said, “I have got the preliminary information about the blast in a coke oven at Bhilai Steel Plant (BSP).” “I have asked for further detailed information from the authorities. Rescue and relief measures are underway,” he said.

According to sources, Minister of State for Steel Vishnu Deo Sai, Steel Secretary Binoy Kumar and SAIL Chairman Anil Chaudhary have also left for Bhilai.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in June dedicated the modernised and expanded Bhilai Steel Plant to the nation.

As per SAIL’s website, the Bhilai Steel Plant is India’s sole producer and supplier of world class rails for the Indian Railways, including 260 metre long rails, and a major producer of a large variety of wide and heavy steel plates and structural steel.

With an annual production capacity of 3.153 MT of saleable steel, the plant also specialises in other products such as wire rods and merchant products.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.