At least 11 people were killed and around thousands fell sick in a gas leak incident that took place at the LG Polymer plant on the outskirts of Visakhapatnam in the early hours of Thursday. The gas reportedly started leaking around 2.30 am when the workers were preparing to reopen the plant.
All the unconscious people and those with breathing difficulties have been admitted to the King George Hospital in the city. An official at the hospital said that the death toll is likely to go up. The doctor said that children below the age of 10 years were the most seriously affected. Visakhapatnam Police Commissioner Rajiv Kumar Meena said that four persons died after breathing the gas while two persons died while escaping from the scene of the leak when the four-wheeler they were travelling fell into a ditch.
Two people driving away from the deadly fumes died when their two-wheeler fell in a ditch. One woman fell off the second floor of her building. In one mobile video, a woman standing near a scooter suddenly collapsed on the pavement. In multiple videos, men, women and children were seen lying on the streets of Vishakhapatnam, an industrial port city. Hundreds of people, many in masks for Covid-19 precaution, were seen lifting the injured and bundling them into waiting ambulances.
"The unfortunate event took place past midnight when they tried to restart the polymer plant which is pretty old - maybe if it was done in the day time, people would have been more alert and able to move away," said PV Ramesh, secretary to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Reddy. Residents near the plant reported a burning sensation in their eyes and skin and difficulty in breathing, officials said.
While Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has directed the district officials to take every possible step to save lives and bring the situation under control, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he has spoken to the Ministry of Home Affairs and NDMA and that the situation is being monitored closely. PM Modi also spoke to the Chief Minister and assured him all help and support.