Gas leak from Vizag chemical plant kills 11, impacts 1,000
Toll may go up as police registers criminal case against plant management
Visakhapatnam/New Delhi: Gas leaked from a chemical plant in Visakhapatnam in the early hours of Thursday and quickly spread to villages in a five-kilometre radius, killing at least 11 people and impacting about 1,000, many collapsing to the ground as they tried to escape the toxic vapours.
Police has registered a criminal case against plant management.
Hours after the styrene gas leak around 2.30 am from the multinational L G Polymers Plant at R R Venkatapuram village near here, scores of people could be seen lying unconscious on sidewalks, near ditches and on the road, raising fears of a major industrial disaster.
Among the dead was a child and two people who fell into a borewell while fleeing the vapours from the plant, getting ready to reopen after the lockdown.
As rescue officers and police personnel rushed to take people to hospital and revive them, many people could be seen gasping for breath as they staggered their way to safety, dazed and disoriented. Some tried to walk but fell to the ground in a faint.
The death toll from the accident could go up with at least 20 people on ventilator support. Besides, 246 people with health complications are undergoing treatment at Visakhapatnam’s King George Hospital, police said.
About 800 people in ground zero, R R Venkatapuram village in Gopalapatnam, were evacuated and most needed only first aid.
Cries for help broke the silence of the night and many people fell unconscious in their sleep, a villager said.
Taking stock of the situation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he had spoken to officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).
“I pray for everyone’s safety and well-being in Visakhapatnam,” Modi said in a tweet.
President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu also expressed their distress and condoled the loss of lives.
Addressing a joint press conference in Delhi in the afternoon National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and NDMA officials said 11 people died and 1,000 were exposed ,to the gas.
NDRF Director General S N Pradhan said leakage from the factory had been reduced to minimal but NDRF personnel would be at the spot till it is totally plugged.
The gas leak took place as the plastic factory that was closed during the lockdown was being prepared for resumption of operations, he said.
About 500 people from 200-250 families in a three-kilometre radius were evacuated to safer places.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jaganmohan Reddy has ordered a probe into the matter, state Director General of Police D Gautam Sawang said.
Prez, political parties condole loss of lives in gas leak tragedy; Modi assures all help
New Delhi: The early morning gas leak tragedy in Visakhapatnam on Thursday shocked the country with the president, vice president and the prime minister besides different political parties condoling the loss of lives and calling for providing all possible help to the affected people.
President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu expressed their sadness over the incident, which left at least 11 persons dead and exposed over 1,000 people living in the affected region to styrene vapour leaking from a chemical plant, and offered prayers for an early recovery of the injured.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi took stock of the situation by speaking to officials concerned and assured all possible assistance to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy.
“I pray for everyone’s safety and well-being in Visakhapatnam,” Modi said.
In his message posted on Twitter, Kovind said, “Saddened by the news of gas leak in a plant near Visakhapatnam which has claimed several lives. My condolences to the families of the victims. I pray for the recovery of the injured and the safety of all.”
“I am confident that the administration is doing everything possible to bring the situation under control at the earliest,” the president added. Expressing their pain, leaders of political parties asked their workers to provide all help to the victims.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi expressed shock over the incident and prayed for a speedy recovery of those hospitalised. He also urged Congress workers in the area to provide all necessary support to those affected. “I’m shocked to hear about Vizag Gas Leak. I urge our Congress workers and leaders in the area to provide all necessary support and assistance to those affected. My condolences to the families of those who have perished. I pray that those hospitalised make a speedy recovery,” he said on Twitter.
BJP president J P Nadda asked party workers to work in coordination with the administration in providing all possible help to the victims.
“Deeply pained to hear about the tragic gas leak in Visakhapatnam. My deepest condolences to the families of the deceased, I pray for the wellbeing of all. I urge party workers to provide all possible relief in coordination with the administration, following all health protocols,” he tweeted.
Senior BJP leader and Union Home Minister Amit Shah has described the tragedy as “disturbing” and said the central government is closely monitoring the situation.
Shah said he is praying for the well-being of the people of Visakhapatnam.
CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury demanded a thorough investigation and called for fixing the responsibility for the tragedy.
“This Vizag industrial accident rings alarm bells reminding us of the horrific Bhopal Gas leak tragedy. Deepest condolences. We demand a thorough investigation and proper compensation to those affected. Responsibility must be fixed,” he said.