Visakhapatnam: At least 11 people, including a six-year-old, were killed and nearly 5,000 fell sick after a chemical gas leaked from a plastic manufacturing unit of LG Polymers in Andhra Pradesh's Gopalapatnam near Visakhapatnam in the early hours of Thursday.
The central government said a specialised CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) team of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and medical specialists are being rushed to Vishakhapatnam.
Preliminary reports said the incident occurred after styrene gas leaked from the unit around 2:30am.
The plant was shut for the past 40 days due to the coronavirus lockdown and minimum staff had been deployed inside. "The gas leaked from two 5,000-tonne tanks, which had been unattended from March due to the lockdown. It led to a chemical reaction and production of heat inside the tanks, which caused the leakage," said the Visakhapatnam Assistant Commissioner of Police (West Zone).
NDRF Director General SN Pradhan said the leakage is now minimal but his personnel will remain at the spot till it is totally plugged. As of now, 20-25 people are critical, he said.
National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) member Kamal Kishore said about 1,000 people living in nearby areas of the factory have been exposed to the gas leak.
Pradhan said 500 people belonging to 200-250 families living within a 3-km radius have been evacuated to safer places.
Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) personnel tried to subside the effects of the leaked gas by blowing water and people were being asked to wear masks after wetting them.
GVMC Commissioner Srujana told News18 that 180 people were shifted to King George Hospital (KGH) and Apollo hospitals, while three are on ventilator. "As many as 1,500 households have been evacuated in Venkatapuram village," she added.
The most affected village is Venkatapuram, which is within a 1.5-km radius of the unit. More than 110 people have been shifted from there. Five villages have been totally evacuated, and the rest are in progress, said officials.
Some people said that the colour of the trees had also changed due to the intensity of the gas.
Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 1 crore for the families of those who died.
Andhra Pradesh Industries Minister Mekapati Goutham Reddy said the government has set up a helpdesk in Vizag and that affected people can get in touch on 7997952301, 8919239341 and 9701197069.
We have instructed concerned authorities to take required measures on a war footing. Villages evacuation is underway. Request citizens not to panic and cooperate with authorities. (2/2)
— Mekapati Goutham Reddy Official (@MekapatiGoutham) May 7, 2020
My condolences to the families of 5 people who passed away due to gas leak at a Pvt firm in Vizag, AP early hours today.Spoke to the CS& DGP of AP to take stock of the situation. Instructed NDRF teams to provide necessary relief measures. I'm continuously monitoring the situation
— G Kishan Reddy (@kishanreddybjp) May 7, 2020
Shocked & deeply anguished by the visuals from #VizagGasLeak
My wholehearted condolences to those who lost their near & dear. Let’s pray for the well-being of the hospitalised 🙏
What a horrible year this has been!
— KTR (@KTRTRS) May 7, 2020
I’m shocked to hear about the
#VizagGasLeak . I urge our Congress workers & leaders in the area to provide all necessary support & assistance to those affected. My condolences to the families of those who have perished. I pray that those hospitalised make a speedy recovery.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) May 7, 2020
Spoke to Union Petroleum Minister Sri Dharmendra Pradhan and Minister of State for Home Affairs, Sri G Kishan Reddy. They assured that needed assistance is being given to ensure safety of the people.
— Vice President of India (@VPSecretariat) May 7, 2020
The incident in Vizag is disturbing.
Have spoken to the NDMA officials and concerned authorities. We are continuously and closely monitoring the situation.
I pray for the well-being of the people of Visakhapatnam.
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) May 7, 2020
The news of gas leak from a Polymer plant in Visakhapatnam is worrying. @NDRFHQ is working together with the state government in performing the first responder’s duty.
My prayers for the safety of all.
Condolences to the family of those deceased.
— Nirmala Sitharaman (@nsitharaman) May 7, 2020
Painful news from Visakhapatnam. I am deeply pained by the loss of lives due to the tragic incident. My thoughts are with the bereaved families. I pray for the safety and well-being of all the people in Visakhapatnam.
— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) May 7, 2020