Agro-chemical major UPL Ltd on Tuesday said that two workers died and 26 were injured after a "serious fire" broke out at its Jhagadia plant in the Bharuch district of Gujarat.
Other than that, five workers were missing, according to the company.
UPL said the accident might have happened due to fire/explosion in the solvent, but did not rule out a "foul play". The company meanwhile said it would offer compensations to deceased and affected workers.
In a regulatory filing, UPL said that "unfortunately, a serious fire broke out in a plant in shutdown condition in the early hours of this morning at our Jhagadia unit in Gujarat".
It further said that fire broke out at around 1.35 am, followed by "explosion at one of our plants which was shut since 5th February 2021 for its planned annual boiler inspection".
Since the plant was shut, UPL said there was no chemical reaction in progress at this plant.
There were no chemical or gas leaks because of the fire/explosion either during or after this incident, it added.
The fire broke out after a blast at United Phosphorus Ltd's plant in Jhagadia GIDC industrial area, said inspector P H Vasava of the local police station.
While local sources said it was a boiler blast, the police official did not specify and said probe was on.
The factory made chemicals used in the pharmaceutical industry, sources said.
"Two bodies have been found so far from the debris inside the factory. Search is underway for five workers who are still missing," inspector Vasava said.
The blast was so powerful that it was heard a long distance away, the inspector said.
Around 15 fire tenders were rushed to the spot and the fire was brought under control by 6.30 am, he added.
"Given the intensity, prima facie, it appears that the fire may have been caused due to fire/explosion in the solvent which could have been caused due to electric short circuit. We do not rule out possible foul play, as there was no operation at the plant," the company filing said.
UPL said the company was able to get access to the site this evening after the fire department brought the fire under control.
"...we have found 2 fatalities at the site and additional 5 workers missing. In addition, 26 workers were injured and received treatment in the hospital, out of which 15 are discharged and 11 are in the hospital. None of them are critical," the statement said.
The company said it would stand by and compensate the family members of the deceased and affected workers.
"We have appointed an internal investigation team to carry out a detailed investigation to ascertain the cause for this fire. We are extending our full co-operation to the local authorities while they investigate this incident. We will also have an independent investigation to get to the root cause," UPL said.
UPL is a leading player in agro-chemical industry with presence in several countries.
The state's Labour and Employment Department issued orders to close the unit and said it will review its safety aspects. It also ordered the factory owners to pay ex-gratia compensation to the deceased workers' families, according to the release.