A boiler exploded at NLC India's thermal plant killing six people and leaving 17 others injured on Wednesday and it has been shut for safety audit, the company said.
An official has been suspended and a high level inquiry and an internal probe has been ordered, the company, a 'navratna' public enterprise, said.
Home Minister Amit Shah, expressing anguish over the loss of lives, spoke to Chief Minister K Palaniswami and assured him of all possible help.
Governor Banwarilal Purhoit and Chief Minister K Palaniswami condoled the deaths and wished the injured a speedy recovery.
The six deceased men were aged between 25 and 42, and at least seven injured men have sustained over 50 per cent burns according to an initial assessment, an official said.
Palaniswami announced a solatium of Rs 3 lakh to the families of each of the six workers who were killed and an assistance of Rs one lakh and Rs 50,000 to those who suffered serious and mild injuries respectively.
The mishap occurred at the fifth unit of the thermal power station-II when workers were in the process of resuming operations which includes maintenance work following a shutdown, the official said.
A fire broke out in the boiler area subsequent to the explosion resulting in injuries to a maintenance team, comprising an executive, two supervisors, three non-executive employees and 17 contract workers, NLC India, formerly Neyveli Lignite Corporation Limited, said in a statement.
Of the 23 men who were on the spot, six contract workers died on the spot, 16 were rushed to a hospital in Chennai for "further higher specialty treatment" and a man with minor injuries was being treated in the NLC hospital, the company said.
"A high level enquiry headed by P K Mohapatra, retired director (technical), NTPC has been ordered into the cause of the accident apart from an internal enquiry committee with senior executives headed by director (power) of NLC India.
The unit head of thermal power station-II has been placed under suspension pending enquiry by the management."
All the 210 MW units of the thermal power station-II, have been "ordered for shut down for immediate safety audit," Chief General Manager, S Gurusamynathan said.
The home minister said on his Twitter handle: "Anguished to learn about the loss of lives due to a blast at Neyveli power plant boiler in Tamil Nadu. Have spoken to @CMOTamilNadu and assured all possible help. @CISF HQrs is already on the spot to assist the relief work. Praying for the earliest recovery of those injured."