The gas leak in the Indian chemical plant leaves at least five dead and 150 hospitalized

Smokes rise from an LG Polymers plant following a gas leak incident in Visakhapatnam, India, on May 7.

The LG Polymers factory is located in the city of Vishakapatnam in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, India. The gas leak in the plant occurred in the early hours of Thursday morning, local time, police commissioner Rajiv Kumar Meena said.

The escape occurred near a house in the village of 3,000 to 4,000 residents, which the police warned through an announcement over loudspeakers, Meena said. The photos of the city show hospital staff attending several children and babies lying in unconscious beds and cows on dirt roads near the affected area.

“When we got there, many people were lying unconscious on the ground and we evacuated about 1,000 people and took them to the hospital. Of these, about 100 are seriously ill,” said Tej Bharath, an officer in the Vizag Revenue Department.

It was not immediately clear what had led to the loss. The plant was recently reopened after coronavirus blocking restrictions were eased, with the gas leak occurring during the restart process, according to Bharath. The gas has been identified as styrene, a flammable liquid which is used to produce a variety of industrial products, including polystyrene, fiberglass, rubber and latex.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet that he had spoken to officials about the loss and monitored the situation.

“I pray for the safety and well-being of everyone in Visakhapatnam,” he tweeted.

The prime minister of the state is also ready to visit the city hospital where residents are treated, as confirmed by his office in a tweet.

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“The Prime Minister is closely monitoring the situation and has ordered district officials to take every possible step to save lives and bring the situation under control,” said the tweet.

Local authorities and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are on the ground to respond to the escape. Evacuation operations are almost complete, according to a senior NDRF official.

Photos tweeted by Satya Pradhan, general manager of the NDRF, show team members wearing suits and gas masks to protect residents. Some had to physically carry the affected residents on their shoulders, rushing to get medical attention.

The city’s civic authority, the Greater Vishakapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC), has warned residents to stay indoors during the response effort.

“There is a gas leak identified by LG Polymers in Gopalpatnam. Request to citizens of these locations not to leave the house for security reasons,” tweeted GVMC. “As a precautionary measure, colonies and villages around the industry could leave safer places. Please use a damp cloth as a mask to cover your nose and mouth.”

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