Bengaluru, Dec 6: A 32-year-old engineer with a start-up company died and three others were injured when a gas cylinder at a laboratory in the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) exploded on Wednesday afternoon.
According to IISc. authorities, around 2.20 p.m., a high-pressure hydrogen cylinder suddenly exploded in the Aerospace Department’s Laboratory for Hypersonic and Shockwave Research. At the time, four persons from Super-Wave Technology Private Limited (SWTPL), a start-up founded by professors at IISc. which was conducting experiments, were at the laboratory. The incident is believed to be the first-ever laboratory accident at the 110-year-old premier science institute.
The shockwave shattered the windows of the laboratory.
Manoj Kumar, an engineer working for the startup, was closest to the cylinder which burst open. He sustained fatal injuries and died on the spot. Kumar, who is originally from Kollegal near Mysuru, was married just nine months ago. Three others, Atulya Uday Kumar, Kartik Shenoy, and Naresh Kumar, were severely injured and rushed to M.S. Ramaiah Hospital where they are reported to be in a critical state.
The police and Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) teams and Fire and Emergency Services personnel were deployed to the institute to cordon off the area. Bomb disposal officials arrived at the spot to ensure that rest of the high-pressure cylinders were defused. A senior officer from the fire services said that the laboratory had several cylinders of nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, and helium, and the trigger could have been due to variation in the percentage of the gases. However, the exact cause will only be known after the FSL report.
‘Unsure how the explosion occurred’
A team of forensic laboratory officials and IISc. professors will ascertain the cause of the explosion.
The explosion is believed to have been either owing to a gas leak or a fluctuation in pressure. According to IISc. authorities, the cylinder exploded, sending shock waves that could be felt even in the staff quarters, which is quite far from the lab. The windowpanes of the Laboratory for Hypersonic and Shockwave Research were shattered and the roof, which is 20 metres high, was damaged.
Four project engineers from Super Wave Technology Pvt. Ltd., a startup which works on shockwave technologies, were in the laboratory. Manoj Kumar, 32, died on the spot. Athulya Uday Kumar, 25, who has been with the company for two years, sustained multiple facial injuries. Naresh Kumar has puncture wounds on the chest and multiple fractures. Kartik Shenoy, 25, from Dakshina Kannada, has lacerations on the face, buttocks and abdomen. “All are critical and require surgical intervention, and ICU care,” said a release from Ramaiah Memorial hospital.
M.R. Chandrashekar, Chief Security Officer at IISc., said they were not conducting an experiment at the time of the incident.
G. Jagadeesh, professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and co-founder of the startup, said safety protocols were being followed in the laboratory.
Newlywed techie killed, three injured in IISc. lab explosion