Even as the India battles the COVID-19 pandemic with all its might, a disastrous incident, which took place in Vishakhapatnam, has added to the worries of the local citizens. A dangerous styrene gas leak, which occurred in the early hours of May 7 at LG Polymers facility, located around 14 kms from the city, has claimed the lives of at least 11 people, affected thousands and hundreds of people have been shifted to various hospitals for treatment.
As per a report in TOI, around 5,000 people are reported to have fallen sick because of the gas leak. As per various reports, more than 300 people have been hospitalised so far and thousands of people have been evacuated from adjoining areas of the factory.
Many traumatic videos and images, showing several people lying unconscious on the road, are surfacing online. Srijana Gummalla, Commissioner, Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation, has said that styrene had leaked from the plant during early morning hours, when residents in surrounding villages were sleeping. “The plant had been reopened in the past few days after relaxation of the nationwide lockdown was announced,” he said.
LG Polymers India Pvt. Ltd, which deals in development and production of polymers, is owned by South Korean battery maker LG Chemical Ltd. LG Chemicals confirmed that the plant was not operating during the lockdown, but the maintenance staff was present at the facility. The company spokesperson told AFP that a worker, during his night shift at the facility, discovered the gas leak and reported it.
The raw material, styrene, is highly flammable and releases a poisonous gas when it is burnt. The company said in a statement that the gas emitted in the leak can cause nausea and dizziness when inhaled. The statement added that, they have been seeking to ensure that the casualties in the incident receive proper treatment as soon as possible.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “Spoke to officials of MHA and NDMA regarding the situation in Visakhapatnam, which is being monitored closely. I pray for everyone’s safety and well-being in Visakhapatnam.”