M A I N   N E W S

Ammonia leaks from Jalandhar ice unit
Hundreds evacuated
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 3
Hundreds of residents of the Rama Mandi area, on the city outskirts, were forced to rush out of their houses following an ammonia gas leak from an ice factory in the locality this morning.

Timely action by district administration officials, who ordered and supervised the evacuation of more than 400 residents within minutes of the leakage, averted a major tragedy. Around 250 students of B.D. Public School were among the persons who were evacuated.

Around 9.30 am some residents of the area felt difficulty in breathing and nausea. Soon people started coming out of their homes and assembling in open spaces away from the factory. The students of B.D. Public School were running in panic looking for a safer place.

At this moment, officials of the police and the district administration reached the spot and initiated the evacuation process. It took the officials more than one hour to shift the residents to safer places. All residents living within the 100-metre radius of the factory were evacuated.

Around 12 persons, who were suffering from nausea and drowsiness, were taken to nearby hospitals.

The effect of the leak was so strong in the area that even the fire brigade personnel were seemingly reluctant to initiate rescue operations. “All 250 students of the school and other residents are safe. Private hospitals of the city have been put on standby,” said Mr Gupta while talking to The Tribune.

Meanwhile, residents of the area alleged that the gas had been leaking from the unit for about past one week. A number of complaints to the authorities concerned against the owner of the ice factory did not yield any result. “The owner of the factory never bothered to give a serious hearing and take necessary steps for the safety of people,” alleged councillor Jagdish Dakoha.

Mr Vikash Sharma, whose house is adjoining the ice factory, corroborated the allegation. Davinder Singh Lovely, whose father Ajit Singh had taken ill following the gas leak, said persistent protests against the factory owner and pleas with the district administration to shift it from the area had fallen on deaf ears.

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