How the Visakhapatnam gas leak happened: A timeline
A tragic incident unfolded in Visakhapatnam early Thursday morning when a gas leaked from a chemical plant in the city. The gas leak has claimed the lives of at least 11 people thus far and impacted thousands in five villages in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. The gas has been neutralized and residents in affected areas were evacuated. Here's how it all went down.
Primary report confirmed leak during wee hours
Around 2:30 am, a primary report on the leak said that styrene gas had leaked from a chemical plant owned by South Korean electronics giant LG, located at RRV Puram near Gopalapatnam. At 3:30 am, the police control room received a call through 100, Andhra Pradesh DGP Gautam Sawang said. The call had been made by a resident of the affected Venkatapuram village.
Police, fire department officials deployed at Venkatapuram village
At 3:45 am, a police team was deployed at Venkatapuram village along with fire safety department officials. The village, which houses 1,500 people, is the closest residential area to the LG Polymers plant where the leak happened.
Civic authorities issue advisory
At 7:28 am, the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) tweeted about the gas leak and advised people to remain indoors. At 8:08 am, the GVMC asked people living near the plant to leave for safer locations, asking them to use a wet cloth as a face mask. Between 4-8 am, 108 ambulances and two police battalions were deployed.
Water sprayed in affected areas to reduce impact
Around the same time, authorities of the firm were alerted about the gas leak. They started sprinkling water in affected areas in a bid to subside the effect of the leak. The GVMC also did the same.
Leak stopped; affected persons admitted to hospitals
At 9:37 am, National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) Director-General SN Pradhan told NDTV that the leak had been stopped. Pradhan said that many people had been hospitalized and were in a semi-conscious state. They were also experiencing skin irritation and breathing problems. By 10 am, all residents of the Venkatapuram village had been evacuated.
Gas 'neutralized'; situation brought under control
At 12:23 pm, Andhra Pradesh DGP Damodar Goutam Sawang told ANI that the gas had been neutralized. Around 1:45 pm, NDRF DG SN Pradhan said the situation had been brought under control and 1,000 affected persons have been admitted to hospitals.
Leak started due to a fire
The gas leakage occurred after a fire broke out at the plant. Workers were reportedly trying to restart the plant after the government relaxed lockdown rules imposed due to the coronavirus outbreak. AIIMS Director Dr. Randeep Guleria told The Indian Express that the gas leak will likely not have a long-term impact like the Bhopal gas tragedy. (With inputs from HuffPost India, NDTV, TIE)