- in Environment
Two firefighters have died while trying to put out a massive oil well fire which exploded in India’s north-eastern state of Assam.
Dramatic images showed plumes of smoke and fire rising from the well, visible several miles away as rescue teams tried to control the fire.
News reports said that as many as 1,600 families have been evacuated.
The Baghjan well is near an ecologically sensitive park and wetland, famous for its wildlife.
It is run by Oil India Limited, the second largest crude oil producer in the country.
Senior environment officials say the fire has spread to nearby villages, injuring at least six people.
A company spokesman told the PTI news agency that the two firefighters – who were found near a pond close to the site of the fire – had drowned after jumping into the water.
The fire and explosion came 13 days after the well began leaking gas and condensate following a “blowout” due to pressure changes.
It is not known what caused the explosion. A team from Singapore had arrived at the well a day before to try to plug the leak.
There are also fears that the incident has damaged the environment. Local news reports mentioned the death of an endangered Gangetic river dolphin and several varieties of fish.