India gas leak: At least 13 dead after Visakhapatnam accident

From Agencies,

Thirteen people have died, with hundreds of others taken ill, after a gas leak in south India.

The leak, in the city of Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh state, has been traced to the LG Polymers plant.

Doctors say “hundreds” of people have been taken to hospital – many complaining of a burning sensation in the eyes and difficulties breathing.

The incident, which took place around 03:00 local time (21:30 GMT), may have been due to negligence, officials say.

The leak occurred when the plant was being re-opened for the first time since 24 March when India went into lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus.

The state Industries Minister Goutam Reddy told BBC Telugu that it looked as though proper procedures and guidelines were not followed when the plant was being re-opened.

Swaroop Rani, a senior police official in Visakhapatnam, told AFP that the plant had been left idle because of the lockdown.

“[The gas] was left there because of the lockdown. It led to a chemical reaction and heat was produced inside the tanks, and the gas leaked because of that.”

Local villagers complained around 03:30 and police immediately went to the scene, but had to quickly retreat for fear of being poisoned, the news agency quoted her as saying.

“One could feel the gas in the air and it was not possible for any of us to stay there for more than a few minutes,” she said.

As the gas spread, residents ran out of their homes in panic. Distressing images of people fainting and dropping unconscious on the streets are being shared on social media

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