Even as the death toll from the gas leak at the LG Polymers factory near Visakhapatnam rose to 11 on Friday, a team of experts worked to neutralise the styrene gas at the chemical factory as well as in villages where it had spread.
“It might take 48 hours to neutralise the gas everywhere,” Andhra Pradesh Industries Minister Goutam Reddy said. All the chemical tanks in LG Polymers are safe following 60 per cent polymerisation of the styrene vapour so far, District Collector V Vinay Chand said.
“We have taken all measures to plug the leak completely and experts are closely monitoring the situation. The situation is now fully under control,” he added.
While 10 people died due to the gas leak on Thursday, another person succumbed during the night. As many as 554 people were admitted to King George Hospital, and 128 have recovered completely, said Andhra Pradesh Health Minister A Krishna Srinivas. “There are 305 people still in hospital, including 52 children. All of them are out of danger and no one is on ventilator. About 121 others are receiving treatment at private hospitals, but all are out of danger,” he said.
Meanwhile, a special team of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) team and other experts were engaged in neutralising the gas at the factory and five affected villages.
The Industries Minister said that NDRF teams are conducting door-to-door surveys in the affected villages to check for the presence of gas.
“Following this incident, the government has taken up the task of safety audit of 86 industries in the state which will open after the lockdown,’’ Reddy added.
The District Collector said nobody would be allowed into the affected villages until medical experts declare them safe.
A large number of residents of other areas like Gopalapatnam, Marripalem and Pendurthi, who had fled fearing for their safety, returned to their homes after officials declared that the gas had not spread to those areas.
Chief Secretary Nilam Sawhney, who was camping in Visakhapatnam and overseeing the relief measures, said the situation was under control and that all tanks in the unit were safe.
Sawhney also issued an order appointing a high-level probe into the causes behind the gas leak and to suggest measures to improve the protocol for industrial safety of similar types of plants.
A large number of people spent the night on the road as rumours of another gas leak spread on social media. “Several people drove to Beach Road or other areas and spent the night on the road or inside their four-wheelers. They returned home in the morning after assurances that those areas were not affected. There was no second gas leak in the night… it was all rumour. We sent teams to inform the people camping outside that their areas were safe,’’ Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar Meena said.
(With PTI inputs)
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