Eight dead after chemical gas leak in Indian industrial plant

Eight-year-old girl dies and almost 1,000 people suffered breathing difficulties

Smokes rise from an LG Polymers plant following a gas leak incident in Visakhapatnam, India. Photograph: AFP via Getty

Smokes rise from an LG Polymers plant following a gas leak incident in Visakhapatnam, India. Photograph: AFP via Getty

 

At least eight people have been killed after a chemical gas leaked from an industrial plant in southern India, leaving people struggling to breathe and collapsing in the streets as they tried to flee.

The dead included an eight-year-old girl, and nearly 1,000 people suffered breathing difficulties and other reactions.

Administrator Vinay Chand said several people fainted on the road and were rushed to hospital in Vishakhapatnam, a city in Andhra Pradesh state.

Police Commissioner RK Meena said one person died as he fell into a village well while running away from the plant and another died after he jumped from the second storey of his house to escape. The others died in hospital.

He also said nearly 100 people in hospital are in stable condition with no threat to their lives. The gas leak at the plant has been stopped and the air is clear, he added.

The synthetic chemical styrene leaked from the LG Polymers plant, which workers were preparing to restart after it was closed during the coronavirus lockdown, Mr Chand said.

Breathing difficulties

The gas leaked after a fire broke out and it has since been extinguished, he added.

Nearly 1,000 people in an area of two miles complained of breathing difficulties and burning sensation in their eyes, he said.

Authorities deployed 25 ambulances to shift the sick to hospital and others away from the accident site.

Images from television showed people lying in the streets after they collapsed while trying to flee.

A witness said there was a total panic as a mist-like gas enveloped the area.

“People felt breathless in their homes and tried to run away. Darkness added to the confusion,” he told a television channel.

Srijana Gummala, the local municipal commissioner, said water is being sprayed in the area to minimise the impact of the gas.

“Through public address system, the people are being asked to use wet masks,” he said.

India imposed a strict nationwide lockdown on March 25TH to control the spread of coronavirus, but measures were eased on Monday, allowing neighbourhood shops and manufacturing units to reopen to resume economic activity.

India has so far reported nearly 50,000 virus cases with 14,183 recovered and 1,694 deaths. – AP