The styrene gas leak occurred in LG Polymers India Pvt Ltd chemical factory
A leak of styrene gas at a chemicals factory in Andhra Pradesh’s Vishakhapatnam May 7, 2020 brought back memories of the Bhopal gas disaster. Eight people were reported dead by noon due to the leak at LG Polymers plant in RR Gopalapatnam area. Unofficial estimates were greater. The condition of hundreds remained serious, according to media reports.
The number of those who died from the leak may increase, as the situation of several people remains serious. Many of those who were exposed to the gas complained of a burning sensation in the eyes and a difficulty in breathing.
Around 50 ambulances were rushed to the area to take those who were sick to hospital.
There were reports of chaos in the villages situated close to the chemical plant. Women and children were seen lying unconscious in the streets, according to local media reports that said the elderly and children were the most prone to the gas leak.
The police, as a precautionary measure, evacuated five villages situated close to the plant.
The reason for the gas leak is yet to be ascertained. The chemical plant, where the leak occurred, was established in 1961 and operated by Hindustan Polymers, which became LG Polymers India Pvt Ltd, after South Korean conglomerate LG Corp acquired it in 1997.
The plant had restarted its operations a few days earlier amid the nationwide lockdown, according to media reports, quoting district officials.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy ordered officials to make adequate arrangements to contain the leak and extend all necessary help to those who fell sick in the area.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a tweet on May 7, said he spoke to officials in the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and was closely monitoring the situation.
A meeting of NDMA officials was also called by the Prime Minister.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) said in a statement that it took suo motu cognisance of media reports about the death of eight people and several others falling sick from the gas leak.
The NHRC said there were no reports of human error as of now, adding that notices were sent to the Chief Secretary of the Andhra Pradesh government, asking for a detailed report on the incident. A notice was also issued to the Director General of Police, Andhra Pradesh to inform the NHRC within four weeks on the registration of first information reports in the matter and the status of the police's investigation.
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