Monday, March 10, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Digboi fire under control

Guwahati, March 9
The fire in one of the petrol storage tanks of IOCís Assam Oil Division, caused by explosions triggered by the ULFA at Digboi in Tinsukia district yesterday, was brought under control this evening.

Tinsukia Deputy Commissioner B.N. Das told PTI that the fire in 5250 KL tank was almost doused. Only 10 to 15 per cent of the tank was still smouldering, he said.

The flames were concentrated at the lower part of the tank and the petrol was expected to burn out by midnight.

The loss caused by the fire was estimated to be around Rs 13.5 crore, IOC sources said.

A red alert has been sounded with a massive combing operation launched in the area to nab the culprits but no arrests have been made so far.

Senior police officials, including the Inspector-General (Operations), are camping in the area and a high level meeting of civil, police, army, paramilitary forces and refinery officials was held today to review the situation and step up security and vigilance in the two adjoining districts of Tinsukia and Dibrugarh where ULFA had struck yesterday.

An internal inquiry into the fire has been ordered and the report was to be submitted by March 10.

Forty families evacuated from the area yesterday were returning to their houses today, the sources added.

Eighty fire tenders from Dibrugarh, Tinsukia and Sibsagar along with extra foam sent from Guwahati, battled to control the blaze.

Petroleum-finished products from other tanks have been drained out and shifted elsewhere as a precautionary measure, the sources said.

Operations in the refinery continued as there was no fear of the fire to spread to the installations as the tank was more than a kilometre away from the refinery.

Indian Oil Limited, whose gas pipeline was blasted by the ULFA at Kathalguri in Duliajan district, has also stepped up security at its installations following intelligence reports that the outfit had plans to abduct Russian officials engaged in a survey for hydrocarbons exploration.

Additional reinforcements of the Assam armed police battalion has been posted in the area. PTI


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