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Five Dead, Thousands In Hospital After Gas leak At Chemical Plant


Report says no less than five people have been killed and 1,000 hospitalised after a gas leak at a chemicals plant on the east coast of India, authorities said Thursday, warning the death toll would climb.

The gas leaked out of two 5,000-tonne tanks that had been unattended due to India’s coronavirus lockdown in place since late March, according to a local police officer.

Footage on Indian television channels showed people, including women and children, lying in the streets of Visakhapatnam, an industrial port city in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

“We can confirm at least five deaths right now. More will be confirmed late,” Swaroop Rani, an assistant police commissioner, in Visakhapatnam, told AFP.

B K Naik, district hospitals coordinator, said that at least 1,000 people had been sent to different hospitals, and that it was feared many others may be unconscious in their homes.

“Another thing is that it is still too early in the morning, and there are people who were sleeping inside their homes (around the gas leak) and are unconscious,” Naik told AFP.

“The authorities are checking (in houses) as well. We are working to get people to the hospital. They need oxygenation and fresh air.”

Pictures taken by AFP at the King George Hospital in the city showed two or three patients on each bed, many of them children, and many unconscious.

Some of the patients were lying on the beds in the sparse hospital wearing just shorts and without tops or shoes.

The plant operated by LG Polymers is located in the outskirts of Visakhapatnam. The city and the surrounding area are home to around five million people.

“(The gas) was left there because of the lockdown. It led to a chemical reaction and heat was produced inside the tanks, and the gas leaked because of that,” Rani said.

She said local villagers raised the alarm around 3:30am,

“They said there was some gas in the air,” she said.

“We reached there immediately. One could feel the gas in the air and it was not possible for any of us to stay there for more than a few minutes.”

The incident led to panic among locals in a radius of three kilometres (two miles) around the plant with many people seen lying unconscious on the roads, the paper said.


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