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By A Newsman

Kolkata, 04 October: A fast interceptor boat that Indian Navy had hired for patrolling has been gutted in a fire on river Hooghly at Babughat in north Kolkata today morning.

Two maintenance staff, who were in the boat, have suffered critical burns and are undergoing treatment at the Army’s Command Hospital at Alipore in the city. There are non-Navy personnel.

Eyewitnesses said that around 07.30 am they heard a blast like sound from the boat that was anchored at Babughat and soon after the boat went up in flames. The two maintenance staff somehow managed to eject from the boat but with grievous burns.

They were rushed to the Command Hospital by Defence personnel from Fort William who had rushed after hearing about the fire. Two fire tenders from Lalbazar arrived at the spot but failed to save the boat.

Defence ministry chief spokesperson in Kolkata, Wing Commander SS Birdi, said that the Navy had hired two fast interceptor boats from a private company for firm to patrol river Hooghly and one of them caught fire.

“The operation and maintenance of the boat lies solely with the private contractor. At the time of fire, there were no Navy personnel on board,” he said. A probe has been ordered to find out the cause of the fire although preliminary reports suggest that it was caused by a short-circuit in engine when the maintenance staff switched it on.