Two firefighters of the Oil India Limited (OIL), who went missing, were found dead near the oil well blowout site in Assam's Tinsukia district on Wednesday, June 10. The oil well at Baghjan in Tinsukia, around 550 km east of Guwahati, has been leaking gas for two weeks now.
The damaged oil field caught fire on Tuesday and it is so intense that it could be seen from as far as 10 km away.
Many houses in the adjoining areas were also damaged and around six thousand people have benn shifted to safer places and the relief camps set up by the OIL.
'Bodies recovered from a wetland'
Speaking to a news agency, the Oil India spokesperson Tridiv Hazarika said, "Their bodies were recovered from a wetland near the site. Prima facie it looks that they jumped in the water and got drowned as there is no mark of burn injury. The exact cause will be ascertained only after a post mortem."
Tinsukia district administration officials said that firefighters, identified as Durlav Gogoi and Tikheswar Gohain, had been missing ever since a massive fire broke out at OIL's oil well on Tuesday afternoon.
"The cause of deaths of the firefighters could be drowning in a nearby pond or suffocation in the huge smoke coming out from the massive fire since Tuesday afternoon," the officials confirmed.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team recovered the bodies with the help of drones used by the Forest Department of the Assam government. According to the district administration officials, another firefighter of the ONGC (Oil and Natural Gas Corporation) was injured at the site on Tuesday and taken to Assam Medical College and Hospital in Dibrugarh. His condition was stated to be out of danger.
An OIL spokesman said that the fire has been controlled in a 1.5-km radius but it is still raging as the "uncontrollable" natural gas is being fed by the well's oil. Local people said that the inferno has left a trail of devastation in the adjoining areas, including a famous lake.
Experts, environmentalists and wildlife activists are worried as the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park, known for its feral horses, is less than two km away.
Several teams deployed to douse the blaze
Central paramilitary troopers, NDRF, OIL and ONGC engineers and experts are on a war-footing exercise to douse the fire. The oil well at Baghjan in Tinsukia, around 550 kms east of Guwahati, has been leaking gas for the past 15 days, causing enormous damage to the region's wildlife, wetlands and biodiversity.
The massive fire broke out at the leaking natural gas producing well of the state-owned OIL in Tinsukia district on Tuesday even as an expert team from a Singapore-based emergency management firm was trying to plug the leakage, prompting the state government to seek the Indian Air Force's help to douse the blaze.
Farmland with standing crops, as well as ponds and wetlands in the adjoining villages have also been badly affected and the threat is growing with every passing day.
The OIL spokesman said that after preliminary discussions and debriefing session, the experts from Singapore's 'Alert Disaster Control', led by Michael Ernest Allcorn, along with the OIL team, reached Baghjan well site on Monday afternoon.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal also spoke to Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh seeking help from the IAF to douse the blaze, officials said.
(With agency inputs)