At least five people have been killed and several hundred hospitalized after a gas leak at a chemical plant on the east coast of India, police said on Thursday.
They said the gas leaked from two 5,000-tonne tanks that had not been monitored due to the closure of the coronavirus in India since late March.
“We can confirm at least five deaths at this time. Others will be confirmed later. At least 70 people in nearby hospitals are in an unconscious state and overall 200 to 500 residents are still on treatment (in hospitals ) “, said a Swaroop Rani police official in Visakhapatnam.
The factory operated by LG Polymers is located on the outskirts of Visakhapatnam, an industrial port city in the state of Andhra Pradesh. The city and its surroundings are home to around five million people.
The gas “was left because of the lockout. It caused a chemical reaction and heat was produced inside the tanks, and the gas leaked because of it,” Rani told AFP. an assistant commissioner.
“We received an emergency call from local villagers around 3:30 am today. They said there was gas in the air,” she said.
“We got there immediately. We could smell the gas in the air and none of us could stay there for more than a few minutes. The prepared rescuers started working around 4 am.”
The aftermath of a gas leak in 1984
India witnessed one of the worst industrial disasters in history in December 1984 during the gas leak from a pesticide factory in the central city of Bhopal.
About 3,500 people, mainly in barracks around the factory operated by Union Carbide, died in the days that followed and thousands more in the following years. People continue to suffer from its after-effects to this day.
Government statistics indicate that at least 100,000 people living near the Union Carbide plant have been victims of chronic diseases.
Survivors continue to suffer from diseases such as respiratory and kidney problems, hormonal imbalances, mental illness and many forms of cancer.
New generations have been made sick by the polluted groundwater and poisonous breast milk that fed them from birth.
To this day, children have always been born disfigured with webbed hands and feet, a weakened immune system, stunted growth and congenital disorders due to the gas that affected their mother.