Vizag gas crisis claims 11 lives and reports second leak, which the government clarifies 'was required' to bring the situation under control
- At least 11 dead and over 300 have been rushed to hospitals after
LG Polymer's chemical plant in Andhra Pradesh's Visakhapatnamreported a gas leak, according to District Medical and Health Officer Tirumala Rao.
- A second gas leak was reported later in the night, which the Home Ministry claried was required to being the container under control.
- Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy has announced compensation of ₹1 crore to the families of the deceased and ₹1 lakh to those who have been hospitalised.
- The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) estimates that at least a thousand people have been affected by the gas leak.
- So far, the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) has managed to evaculate 200 to 250 families from the Vizag area.
- The surrounding area of around five kilometres has been affected by the Styrene gas leak with many reporting symptoms like itchy eyes, rashes on their skin, and vomiting.
Another 1,500 people have been evacuated from neighboring areas, added Assistant Commissioner of Police Swarupa Rani.
A second gas leak was reported late last night (May 7), which the Home Ministry clarified was required to bring the container under control.
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) estimates that at least a thousand people expanding across five villages have been affected by the Styrene gas leak from LG Polymers' chemical plant in Vizag.
To counter the effects of the gas leak, around 500 kilograms of para-tertiary butyl catechol (PTBC) — a neutralising agent, which is only manufactured in Gujarat's Vapi— will be airlifted from Daman by the Andhra Pradesh government.
All expenses related to the gas leak will be bourne by the Andhra Pradesh government. Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy announced compensation of ₹1 crore to the families of the deceased. Anyone who received primary care treatment due to the gas leak will be accorded ₹25,000. Those admitted to a hospital for more than two days will be given ₹1 lakh and those on ventilator support will get ₹10 lakh in compensation.
The 15,000 people who live in the immediate neighborhood of the chemical planet will be given ₹10,000 each in addition to ₹25,000 for each livestock animal who died during the mishap.
So far, the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) has managed to evaculate 200 to 250 families from the area. The agency will continue to remain onsite until the leak has been completely plugged.
Meanwhile the city of Visakhapatnam is dealing with another health crisis as a total of 46 coronavirus cases in the Visakhapatnam of which 24 are active and 22 have been discharged.
Immediate steps after the gas leak was reported
The PVS gas, or Styrene, gas leak was reported at the LG Polymers chemical plant in RRV Puram in wee hours of the morning today, May 7. The local authorities and navy personnel were called into action to help manage the unfolding crisis. Gopalapatman circle inspector told TOI that they found nearly 50 people lying unconscious on the roads.
"The gas leak situation is now under control and we are exploring all ways to provide speedy treatment for those who suffer from inhaling the leaked gas. We are investigating the extent of damage and exact cause of the leak and deaths," LG Chemicals, parent company of LG Polymers, said in a statement.
The entire neighbourhood within a 5 kilometre radius of the epicentre has been advised to evacuate by the local authorities as the gas leak contaminates the surrounding water supply.
"Primary report is PVC gas (or Styrene) leaked from LG Polymers, Vepagunta near Gopalapatnam in Visakhapatnam at around 2:30 am today," Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) Commissioner Srijana Gummalla said in a statement.
Precautionary Measures for Gas Leak accident. https://t.co/kMVNi4zBI1— Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) (@GVMC_OFFICIAL) 1588833517000
The hospitals are preparing for thousands of incoming patients with over 800 admitted to different government and private hospitals in Gopalapatnam, according to authorities. The patients are complaining of breathing issues, headaches and frequent vomiting. The ones reporting breathing problems have been provided oxygen support as per Vizag district collector V Vinay Chand.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for a meeting of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) with Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and other officials to discuss the ongoing situation.
#VizagGasLeak: Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for a meeting of the NDMA (National Disaster Management Authorit… https://t.co/pUdBOf7SD0— ANI (@ANI) 1588832509000
What is Styrene gas?
Styrene is a synthetic chemical, which is also goes by other names — including vinylbenzene, ethenylbenzene, cinnamene or phenylethylene. Regardless of what you call it, the gas is a derivative of benzene and generally a colorless and oily liquid.
The most common symptoms of the gas are skin irritation, itchy eyes, chest congestion, vomiting — and in the worst of cases — unconsciousness and death.
Andhra Pradesh Industries Minister M G Reddy said the gas had been neutralised to harmless liquid form.
"The treatment is supportive only. Some will need to be put on a ventilator. For acute lung injury, steroids may be given," AIIMS director, Doctor Randeep Guleria, told the press.
Who is responsible for the gas leak?
Reddy also told ANI that the South Korea-based LG Polymers has be held responsible for the situation and criminal action may be taken against them. An FIR has been filed against the company to investigate the issue.
According to Andhra Pradesh DGP Damodar Goutam, the gas leak looks like it was an accident so far. "The plant was strictly following all protocols. Investigation underway. Forensic teams are also being sent to the spot," he told ANI.
“An FIR has been registered,” added the Police Commissioner of Visakhapatnam City. In addition, the National Human Rights Commision has issued a notice to the Andhra Pradesh and Central government.
"The right to life of the victims has been grossly violated. At a time when human lives across the country are at stake due to the spread of coronavirus and everyone is forced to stay indoors, the gruesome tragedy has come as a bolt from the blue for the people," the National Human Rights Commission said in a statement
LG Chemicals is also looking into the incident, and according to the company, operations are the factory were already suspended in view of the lockdown. But they were in the process of reopening again and resuming work, according to the NDRF chief.
This is not India's first gas leak
This isn't the first gas leak to wreak havoc on the country. In 1984, the Bhopal gas tragedy left 500,000 people exposed to methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas. The immediate death toll at time was reported to be 2,259. A study by Ingrid Eckerman estimates that at least 8,000 died within the span of two weeks, with another 8,000 succumbing to gas-related diseases over time.
Andhra Pradesh chief minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy is currently on his way to visit the city. His first stop is scheduled to be the King George Hospital where most of the victims of the gas leak are being treated.
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