Disasters & Accidents

At least 7 dead, thousands affected following industrial gas leak in India

New Delhi, May 7 (efe-epa).- At least seven people died and thousands were affected after gas leaked from a chemical plant in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh on Thursday, according to authorities.

“As of now, 7 people have died and an entire village has been affected, around 2000 families. In total, it comes to more than 7.000 people affected,” Srijana Gummalla, Commissioner of Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation told EFE on Thursday.

Gummalla added that the leakage of styrene gas – which is used to make polystyrene plastics – which is considered to be neurotoxic and can be lethal in high concentration, took place at a plant owned by South Korean firm LG Corporation at about 2.30 am (21.00 GMT) Thursday in Vishakhapatnam.

A television network based in New Delhi showed dozens of men and women unconscious on the streets while the police and emergency services personnel took those affected to hospital.

“Whoever has symptoms have been transferred to hospitals, most of the people have been evacuated already,” Gummalla said and added that those affected experienced breathing problems and fainted.

According to a map posted on Twitter by the municipal corporation of Vishakhapatnam, the toxic fume spread over a radius of about 3 kilometers (1.8 miles).

The authorities further said that the incident was under investigation and added that, “Initially, it seems like a group of unskilled laborers had some issues with the maintenance work and the gas leaked because of that.”

The plant was shut down in late March – following the lockdown measures imposed across the country in an effort to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus – and resumed activities this week after easing of restrictions in some parts of India.

Collapses, fires and other industrial accidents are common in India, often due to faulty infrastructure and lack of maintenance, and corruption and illegal practices in the construction sector exacerbate those problems.

The country experienced one of its major industrial accidents in the history after a toxic gas leak from a pesticide plant led to thousands of deaths in the Indian city of Bhopal in 1984 and is still battling with the aftereffects of the incident. EFE-EPA

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