Blown-out gas well in Assam bursts into flames

Residents, evacuated earlier, now fear their homes may be ablaze
<p>Flames from a blown-out gas well in Assam, India (Image:  Xinhua/Alamy)</p>

Flames from a blown-out gas well in Assam, India (Image: Xinhua/Alamy)

The gas well in Baghjan, eastern Assam, that had blown out on May 27 burst into flames in the afternoon of June 9. Eyewitnesses reported a big blast followed by flames.

Residents of Baghjan – close to the famous Dibru-Saikhowa National Park and Maguri-Motapung wetland – had been evacuated to a nearby school building after the initial blowout. “We fear our houses are on fire,” one resident said after the blast. Many of them came out of their shelter to stare at the blaze in the distance. Others who had been to the village on some chore or the other ran for their lives.

Operated by Oil India Limited (OIL), the rig “DGR – Location 5” had originally blown out with a blast as well. Since then, oil vapour and gas have been escaping into the air at high pressure, despite the attempts of experts from OIL and the Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC) to cap the well. They had been joined by experts from Singapore on June 8, just a day before the second blast and the fire.

The pollution is already killing fish in the area [image by: Chandrani Sinha]
The oil vapour and gas had already affected the health of residents. Oil has been settling down on trees, farmlands and wetlands, turning everything barren and killing animals even before the second blast and the fire took place.

A dead squirrel by the side of the road [image by: Chandrani Sinha]
See earlier report: Gas well blows out in Assam

The damage in the critical biodiversity spot is obvious on the water and land [image by: Chandrani Sinha]
Videos by Chandrani Sinha, a freelance journalist based in Assam, her twitter handle is @chandranisinha1

Correction: An earlier version of this article said an oil well had exploded instead of a gas well. This was corrected on July 2. The Third Pole regrets the error