RAIPUR: A poisonous gas leak at one of India's largest steel plants killed six people overnight and injured 31 others, a factory official said on Friday.
Deadly gas escaped from one of the blast furnaces at the flagship Bhilai Steel plant run by the Steel Authority of India in central Chhattisgarh state, the factory's chief spokesman said.
"Six industrial workers have been killed and 31 others injured due to leakage of carbon monoxide gas from one of the blast furnaces," Vijay Mairal told AFP.
Six of the injured were in a "severe condition" in hospital in the city of Bhilai, he said.
A statement from the company said the main water pump suddenly ruptured on Thursday night, resulting in a loss of pressure in the pipes supplying water to the blast furnace.
As the workers were fixing the rupture, gas from the furnace entered the damaged pipes and leaked, the statement said.
Mairal said the incident will be investigated thoroughly but that the priority was to assist those affected.
The plant in Bhilai in Durg district, some 40 kilometres (25 miles) west of state capital Raipur, produces 3.15 million tonnes of saleable steel annually.
The plant is India's sole producer of rails and heavy steel plates.
India witnessed one of the world's worst industrial accidents in 1984 when a storage tank at a pesticide plant run by Union Carbide in the city of Bhopal spewed cyanide gas into the air, instantly killing more than 3,500 people.
Union Carbide was bought by US group Dow Chemicals in 1999. (AFP)