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A labourer who was injured during an explosion inside the drift tunnel of Powerhouse II of Nyera Amari Hydropower Project on June 15 is in critical condition.

The 26-year-old victim is undergoing treatment at Down Town hospital in Guwahati, India. 

According to the hospital, the victim has sustained about 60 percent electric flash burn with septic shock and multiple organ dysfunction syndrome (MODS).

The explosion is suspected to have occurred due to inflammable gases, not because of the explosive. 

Construction Development Corporation Ltd. (CDCL) officials said that the site had telltale signs of gaseous explosion. The incident happened during the mucking activity.

All four who died had sustained significant burn, including the facility inside the drift tunnel, which the officials said was not the characteristic feature of an explosive explosion. Explosives do not cause burn injuries.

An official said that the recovering victim was more than 450ms from the actual site of explosion bringing out muck in a power tiller. “He had been blown away a few metres from the power tiller and had sustained 60 percent burn.” 

CDCL officials who entered the tunnel immediately following the explosion suffered breathing problem; three of them had to be admitted at Samdrupcholing BHU.

Officials from Dungkhag, Royal Bhutan Army and Royal Bhutan Police who launched rescue effort also suffered breathing problems and had to be administered oxygen by the medical staff.

Officials said that all these distinctive attributes clearly point towards methane gas explosion. Methane is an odourless gas that is highly inflammable and explosive even at the contact with atmospheric air.

“It is believed that there is coal deposit some metres beneath the drifting site. The gas must have made into the drift tunnel through the fissures and open joints,” officials said.

All workers are insured with the Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan Ltd. 

The bodies of the deceased were recovered around 5pm on June 16 and were handed over to the family members.The dzongkhag kidu office has handed over the Royal semso to the families of the deceased. 

The CDCL is executing the excavation of drift works for the proposed Nyera Amari Hydropower Project.

Kelzang Wangchuk | Samdrupjongkhar

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