Visakhapatnam/New Delhi, May 7
Gas leak from a multinational chemical plant in Visakhapatnam in the early hours of Thursday killed 11 persons and over 1,000 fell ill as the toxic vapours spread to villages up to 5 km away. The National Disaster Management Authority and local administration evacuated nearly 3,000 people and secured the area with the help of specialised teams.
Also read: What is styrene
Hours after the styrene gas leak around 2.30 am from the South Korean-owned LG Polymers Plant at RR Venkatapuram village near here, scores of people could be seen lying unconscious on sidewalks, raising fears of a major industrial disaster.
Among the dead were two children, aged six and nine, a first year medical student and two people who fell into a well while fleeing the vapours from the plant, getting ready to reopen after the lockdown. Cries for help broke the silence of the night and many people fell unconscious in their sleep, a villager said.
As rescue officers and police personnel rushed to take people to hospital and revive them, many people could be seen gasping for breath as they staggered their way to safety, dazed and disoriented. Some tried to walk but fell to the ground.
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The death toll from the accident could go up with at least 20 people on ventilator support. Besides, 246 people with health complications are undergoing treatment at Visakhapatnam’s King George Hospital, police said.
“Only around 9.30 am we could understand what exactly it was after the fog over the area cleared,” District Collector V Vinay Chand said. As much as 1,800 tonne of styrene is said to have been in the storage tank when the leakage happened. Styrene gas, used to make polystyrene plastics, fibreglass and latex, affects the central nervous system, throat, skin and eyes.
Taking stock of the situation, PM Narendra Modi said he had spoken to officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the NDMA. “I pray for everyone’s safety and well-being in Visakhapatnam,” Modi said in a tweet.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy has ordered a probe into the matter, the state DGP said.
Though the source of the leak was contained in the morning, the effects were seen for many hours later. Cattle and birds were also knocked unconscious by the gas leak. South Korean firm LG Chem, which operates the plant, said it was cooperating with Indian authorities to help residents and employees. — PTI
In Chhattisgarh,7 workers fall ill after inhaling gas
Raipur: Seven workers fell ill, three of them seriously, after inhaling poisonous gas at a paper mill in Chhattisgarh’s Raigarh district, the police said on Thursday. The workers at Shakti Paper Mill in Tetla village were cleaning a recycling chamber, Raigarh SP Santosh Singh said. The factory owner did not inform the administration about the incident which came to light after the hospital authorities alerted the police.
Styrene is a colourless, flammable liquid which is used to prepare polystyrene plastics, rubber and fibreglass. It is used in pipes, insulation, automobile parts, etc. The exposure of styrene is through ingestion, inhalation or contact (skin).
Shramik trains suspended
The accident impacted the movement of trains from Visakhapatnam, including at least nine Shramik Special Trains taking migrants to various places.
Rs 1 cr relief to victims’ kin
The CM announced Rs1 crore relief to kin of each person killed.
Gujarat has rushed 500 kg of PTBC chemical to control the leakage from the chemical plant.
NHRC issues notices
New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notices to the Centre and the Andhra Pradesh Government, seeking report on the leakage of styrene gas at an industrial unit in Vizag district on Thursday.
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