Indian power plant blast kills 26

Smoke billows from a coal-fired power plant after a boiler unit exploded in the town of Unchahar in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh

Numerous injured have suffered severe burns.

About 80 people have been taken to the hospital of plant operator NTPC Ltd, while around 10 with serious injuries have been sent to other facilities, NTPC said in a statement on Wednesday.

Sanjay Khatri, the area's top administrative officer, said a pipe carrying ash from the burning coal exploded in the newly installed boiler at the power plant in Unchahar in Uttar Pradesh state. India reported 809 accidental explosion incidents in 2015, causing 831 deaths, federal home ministry data show.

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In a statement, the National Human Rights Commission said an investigation was needed to ascertain whether negligence or errors had caused the explosion, and asked the state government to submit a detailed report within six weeks.

"Ash had piled up in the furnace beneath the boiler, which then led to building up of pressure resulting in the explosion", Anand Kumar, a top state police official said.

The 1,550 megawatt (MW) plant supplies electricity to nine states, according to the company's website, and employs 870 people.

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The blast happened because the boiler pipe burst in the 500 MW power generating unit that started operating in March at the plant in Unchahar, which is almost 30 years old.

Other units at the plant are either under scheduled maintenance or are not operating now due to lack of demand, NTPC said.

The unit was being trialled at a coal-fired plant run by the state-owned National Thermal Power Corporation.

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The boiler where the explosion happened has been in operation since around April this year, NTPC said.

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