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Indian Accident Claims Six Lives.

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Indian Accident.
Indian Accident: Image credit: ISRO.

More details have emerged about Monday's deadly fire at a solid rocket processing plant in India. Nine employees were working on a segment of a test motor at the Solid Propellant Space Booster Plant at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre. The team was in the final stage of removing fixtures from a recently-built motor when it exploded. Six were killed in the explosion and following fire, and three more escaped with burns. A committee has been appointed to uncover the events that led to the disaster.

A major fire accident occurred on a Segment of a Test Rocket Motor at the Solid Propellant Space Booster Plant (SPROB) at Satish Dhawan Space Centre(SDSC-SHAR), Sriharikota, in the afternoon of 23/2/2004. It claimed the lives of six persons including an Engineer, three Technicians and two Helpers and caused burn injuries to three persons.

The above crew of nine people was engaged in the Cast-Cure facility. The work at the time of fire accident was the final operations of removing the fixtures after the satisfactory conclusion of propellant curing of a segment of a motor holding around 14.5 tones of solid propellant, which is a composite of Ammomium Percholorate Oxidiser, atomised aluminium powder as fuel and Hydroxy Terminated Polybutadiene as binder. In the forenoon, the crew had satisfactorily concluded the removal of mandrel, which is one of the critical operations. At around 3.15 p.m. the crew were attending to the removal of the bottom plate of the casting assembly. During these operations, the propellant in the segment inadvertently caught fire and caused severe damages to the building and persons inside.

Three members of the nine-member team were able to escape from the building with burn injuries. They are Shri Y Krishna Prasad, Shri S Narayanan, both are Senior Engineers and, Shri S K Sachin, Tradesman. They were immediately rushed to Apollo Hospital, Chennai, for giving best medical attention. Six others who could not escape from the building were rapidly asphyxiated and burnt of intense heat and fumes of burning of 14.5 tones of Propellant. They are Shri Ramakrishna Prasad, Engineer; Shri Basheer Saheb; Shri N Krishnaiah; Sri Srinivasulu (all Senior Technicians); Shri Pandit and Shri Sanjiv (Helpers).

The building suffered extensive damage due to intense heat and the estimated damage is about Rs. 70 lakhs. SPROB was provided with two Cast-Cure facilities to meet any contingencies and hence ISRO's programme is not expected to suffer on account of damages to the building.

A high power Committee has been appointed under the Chairmanship of Shri R Aravamudan to identify the events that led to the accident, the extent of damage, and the corrective actions required for the future.

Original Source: ISRO News Release

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