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Police say 6 killed, 29 injured in explosion and gas leak at India steel plant

PATNA, India - At least six people were killed and 29 more injured in an explosion and a subsequent gas pipeline leak on Thursday at a government-run steel plant in central India, a plant spokesman said.

The accident happened in Bhilai steel plant in Chhattisgarh state, 35 kilometres (20 miles) west of Raipur, the state capital.

Twenty workers were hospitalized, six of them with serious injuries, said Vijay Kumar Mehral, a spokesman for the steel plant. Nine workers with minor injuries were allowed to go home after medical treatment, he told reporters.

Mehral also said an inquiry has been ordered into the accident.

Aaj Tak television news channel said that methane and carbon monoxide had leaked from a pipeline following the explosion.

The leak from a blast furnace occurred due to damage in a water pump, the Press Trust of India news agency quoted a statement by the plant management as saying.

Police said the gas leakage at the steel plant has been controlled.

Raman Singh, the state's top elected official, expressed grief over the casualties and said the best possible medical care would be provided to those injured in the accident.

The Bhilai Steel Plant is India's first and main producer of steel rails, as well as a major producer of wide steel plates and other steel products. The plant also produces and markets various chemical by-products from its coke ovens and coal chemical plant.

It was set up with the help of the then Soviet Union in 1955.

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