Nine people who were trapped inside the Srisailam hydroelectric plant in Telangana, India, were killed when a fire broke out at the facility late last night.

The fire broke out at Unit 1 of the under tunnel of the hydroelectric plant.

Thick smoke from the blaze continues to come out of the tunnel and efforts are underway to reduce its intensity.

The rescue operations are led by National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and CISF personnel.

The fire is said to have begun at around 10:30pm local time and 20 people were on shift at the tunnel.

A total of 11 people could escape but nine others, including a division engineer and four assistant engineers, were trapped in the tunnel.

Telangana Transco CMD D Prabhakar Rao was quoted by the news agency PTI as saying: “As soon as the fire started, they tried to trip the units but that couldn’t happen. So we isolated the 400kV input and all units were tripped.”

According to initial reports, a short circuit at the hydroelectric power station at the left bank of the Srisailam dam is believed to have caused the fire and led to the explosion.

One official was quoted by NDTV as saying: “The project unit operates at multiple levels. Those in the control room are said to have managed to come out. Others at lower levels couldn’t come out because of the smoke. The current being switched off also hampered rescue and escape efforts.”

This is said to be the first such accident at the power facility and a probe has ordered to ascertain the reason and the damage caused.