Vizag gas leak: 7 dead, hundreds sick

An accidental leakage of styrene gas early this morning at Korean company LG Polymers’ Visakhapatnam plant left at least seven persons, including a child, dead. Another 1,000 people were reported sick.
People woke up in horror with breathlessness and a burning sensation in their eyes as the emission spread to the adjoining villages at around 3.30 am. Some fell unconscious while fleeing, according to eyewitness accounts.
King George Hospital’s G Arjuna said a high concentration of gas near the leakage point and a longer period of inhalation by people when they were asleep made them sick.
As many as 3,000 people were evacuated to safe places and at least 250 were admitted to various hospitals, according to initial reports. Those in critical condition were put on oxygen support.
Vizag collector Vinay Chand said the administration rushed ambulances and other vehicles to evacuate people soon after receiving the information at around 4 am. Efforts were still on to contain the leakage completely.
Established in 1969, the LG Polymers manufacturing plant produces hypol and EPS polymers, polystyrene, expandable polystyrene and other styrene polymers, according to the company’s website. The Indian subsidiary of South Korea's LG Chem had taken it over 15 years ago.
The plant had been shut for 40 days due to the nationwide lockdown in force to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The leakage is believed to have taken place when the plant’s employees were preparing to reopen it following some recent relaxations announced by the government.
Chronic exposure to styrene in humans can affect the central nervous system, causing headache, fatigue, weakness, depression and CNS dysfunction, hearing loss, and peripheral neuropathy.

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