Fire in oil well makes authorities to shut wells in India's northeast

State-run Oil India Ltd. closed 30 oil wells in the country's remote northeast for safety reasons as a fire at a nearby oil well raged out of control.

A team from U.S.-based Boots & Coots International Well Control Inc., which specializes in extinguishing oil well fires, was at the site waiting for heavy pressure pumps and a special kind of sand to arrive from a western Indian state, said J. K. Talukdar, who heads the oil company's eastern India operations.

The equipment was likely to arrive later this week at the Dekom oil field, where nearly 300 firefighters and oil workers were battling to put out the fire, Talukdar said.

He said the company shut the 30 wells as a protective measure but added that the move would affect oil production.

The Dekom oil field, 550 kilometers east of Gauhati, the capital of Assam state, produces 3.5 million tons of crude annually and is operated by state-owned Oil India.

Authorities evacuated 5,000 residents from villages and a tea estate in the area last week. There were no casualties as no houses were located within 300 meters of the oil well, the AP reports.

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