Gas leak in Indian chemical plant leaves at least eight dead

Gas leak in Indian chemical plant leaves at least eight dead1
Rescuers evacuate people following the gas leak incident in Visakhapatnam on May 7. Source: Getty Images
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Daily US Times: At least eight people have died and another 200 hospitalized from a gas leak at an Indian chemical plant on Thursday. There are hundreds more potentially affected.

The leak happened at the LG Polymers plant in the city of Visakhapatnam, in India’s southern state of Andhra Pradesh. It took place in the early hours of Thursday morning local time. Footage from the scene shows people lying crumpled and unconscious on the ground, some next to motorcycles and vehicles that have toppled over.

The plant is located close to a village which has between 3,000 to 4,000 residents.

A senior Vishakhapatnam district official Tej Bharath said: “When we arrived on the spot a lot of people were lying on the ground unconscious and we evacuated around 1,000 people and rushed them to the hospital. Of these, around 100 are seriously ill.”

According to Gopalapatnam Police Inspector V Ramanayya, at least 200 people are now in hospital. He added that they transported hundreds of people in ambulances, state-provided buses and police vehicles while others left on their own. Images show roads and highways leading away from the plant filled with people running to safety, many carrying people who had been injured or fallen unconscious.

Smokes rise from an LG Polymers plant following a gas leak incident in Visakhapatnam, India, on May 7. Source: Getty Images

Police confirmed that the leak is under control now and rescue operations are completed.

What had led the leak is not immediately clear. The plant is owned by South Korean company LG Corp. It had recently reopened after coronavirus lockdown restrictions were eased. According to Bharath, gas leak occurring during the process of re-starting operations.

The gas has been identified as Styrene, a flammable liquid that is used to make a variety of industrial products, including fiberglass, polystyrene, latex and rubber.

Photos of the latest incident has drawn parallels online with the Bhopal disaster — a gas leak in the central Indian city of Bhopal in December 1984.

Nearly 4,000 people have died, and nearly half a million people were exposed to toxic fumes from that incident. Around 10,000 subsequent deaths have been blamed on the leak, which is now considered one of the world’s worst industrial disasters.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet that he was monitoring the situation and had spoken with officials regarding Thursday’s leak.

He tweeted: ”I pray for everyone’s safety and well-being in Visakhapatnam.”

The state’s chief minister is also set to visit the city hospital where residents are being treated, his office confirmed in a tweet.

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