At least six people were killed and around a thousand were hospitalized urgently following a gas leak at a chemical plant in Southeast India, local authorities reported Thursday, May 7.
“At least 1,000 people from areas around the gas leak have been transported to different Visakhapnatam public or private hospitals,” doctor BK Naik, coordinator of the district hospitals, told AFP.
The accident occurred overnight at the LG Polymers India plant outside the industrial and port city of Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh state.
The situation is “under control,” South Korea’s LG Chem, the parent company of LG Polymers India, the plant where the accident occurred, said in a statement from Seoul. The company and authorities did not report what type of gas it is.
“The situation caused by the gas leak is under control and we value all options to quickly care for all those suffering from gas inhalation,” said LG Chem, the parent company of LG Polymers India.
The gas leaked from two 5,000-ton tanks that had been neglected due to declining activity caused by confinement decreed to contain the pandemic of the new coronavirus, in place in India since late March, local police said.
Primary report is PVC gas (or Styrene) leaked from LG Polymers, Vepagunta near Gopalapatnam in Visakhapatnam at around 2:30 AM today
Because of the leakage of the said compound gas hundreds of people have inhaled it and either fell unconscious or having breathing issues. pic.twitter.com/WeCdrbddV1
— Srijana Gummalla (@GummallaSrijana) May 7, 2020
” We received an emergency call from neighbors around 3:30 in the morning today (Thursday). They said there was some gas in the air,” said the police official.
“We got there right away. You could feel the gas in the air and none of us could stay there for more than a few minutes,” he said, adding that rescue teams began to act immediately.
Television images showed people, including women and children, lying on the streets of Visakhapatnam, an industrial port city in Andhra Pradesh state.
According to doctor Naik, “It was still very early in the morning, and people were sleeping inside their homes (around the gas leak) and are unconscious.”
“The authorities are also checking (in the houses). We are working to get people to the hospital. They need oxygenation and fresh air.”
AFP photographers at the city’s King George Hospital showed two or three patients in each bed, many of them children, and many unconscious.