05/07/2020, 09.26
INDIA
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Visakhapatnam, at least 9 dead and hundreds injured in gas leak

by Nirmala Carvalho

A styrene gas leak occurred last night from the depots of LG Polymers, a multinational company. The firm had just reopened after nearly two months of lockdown. Archbishop Prakash Mallavarapu: “The gas has spread within 3 km and has affected people, animals, birds, trees. It is said to be a gas that can be deadly, and that affects the nervous system. " "A tragedy similar to Bhopal".

Visakhapatnam (AsiaNews) - At least nine people have died and hundreds have been injured in a gas leak that occurred in Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh, southeast India).

According to several eye-witnesses, the gas leak occurred in the early hours of the morning (around 3) while people were sleeping. The initial investigation reveals that it is styrene gas that was stored in two 5,000-ton deposits in the LG Polymers company, a multinational company.

The leak occurred when the company reopened. It had been closed since March 24, the date on which the quarantine was imposed in the country. It is likely that the plant has been reopened without following specific procedures. Left unattended for almost two months, the gas - which needs to be heavily refrigerated – leaked on the first operation.

The Archbishop of Visakhapatnam, Msgr. Prakash Mallavarapu, tells AsiaNews: “The gas has spread within a radius of 3 km and has affected people, animals, birds, trees. It is said to be a gas that can be deadly, and that affects the nervous system. "

During the night, the people who discovered the gas leak tried to escape, while dozens of people lost consciousness. Police said dozens of villagers were found passed out along the road and trapped in their homes. Everyone has experienced severe burning in the eyes. Several hundred are now hospitalized in the city hospital. The authorities are evacuating the inhabitants from the polluted area.

The bishop explains: “Near the factory, in Butchirajupalem, there is the church of St. Thomas. Thank God the parish priest and the nuns of the convent next door are doing well. During the night the priests welcomed some families in the compound of the parish, trying to give them some care and relief ".

 Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, describes the accident as a "huge tragedy". "It is - he told AsiaNews - a criminal negligence on the part of the company, which left such an unstable chemical product without custody. Permission was given to open this facility in the middle of a heavily populated city, with highly questionable security measures. This is a similar tragedy to Bhopal. "

The city of Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh) is remembered because in 1984 a gas leak (methyl isocyanate) killed thousands of people. After more than 35 years, the population still suffers the consequences and many newborns have disabilities as the effect of that leak.

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