A massive 70-tonne crane on a trial run in the Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL) in Visakhapatnam came crashing down on Saturday, crushing 11 people to death in the first such mishap in the public sector ship-building company's 75-year-old existence.
All the deceased who came under the falling iron mass, rail-mounted and known as jetty crane for being on a ramp to
handle cargo, were killed on the spot, even as TV visuals showed the equipment collapsing to the ground with a loud thud after its cabin and base snapped during the trial run.
The new crane was erected at HSL about two years ago but was not yet commissioned for regular operations due to a change in contractors.
“A new crane was being commissioned. A trial run was being conducted to bring it into full-scale operation. Inquiries will be done by both Hindustan Shipyard and a high-level committee from the administration,” said Visakhapatnam District Collector V Vinay Chand.
Expressing anguish over the loss of lives, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh later on Saturday said a departmental enquiry committee has been instituted to establish the cause of the accident.
The HSL management, with the help of three new contractors, started conducting a trial run of the crane when its cabin and base snapped and collapsed as a dead-weight load was being tested, said Chand. There were no other casualties in the incident, he added.
Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy spoke to Chand and enquired about the incident. He directed the Collector and Visakhapatnam city Commissioner of Police RK Meena to take the required follow-up action.
Four of the victims were employees of HSL, including a supervisor, while the other seven were workers of three contracting agencies, said the Collector after inspecting the accident site. Bodies of the victims have been retrieved and sent for post-mortem.
While HSL constituted an internal committee headed by its Director (Operations), Chand formed an independent committee of engineers, comprising heads of departments of civil, mechanical and electrical engineering of Andhra
Engineering College, to investigate the cause of the crane accident.
"The committees will probe if there is any human negligence that caused the mishap," he said.
Anupam Cranes of Mumbai erected the jetty crane at HSL two years ago, but it was not made operational. The company later backed out of the contract and HSL then engaged Greenfield Company to operationalise the crane. HSL also contracted Lead Engineers for maintenance and Squad7 for regular operation of the crane.
The other deceased were three workers of Greenfield, two of Lead Engineers and one of Squad7. One victim is yet to be identified.
The accident was among a spate of fatal industrial mishaps the region has witnessed in the recent past. In May, 12 people were killed and many hospitalised after a styrene vapour leaked at a private plant in Vizag while a major fire accident in a pharmaceutical company in the Pharma City at Parawada near Visakhapatnam left an employee dead last month.
(With inputs from PTI)