New Delhi: At least 10 people have died and over 5,000 are ill so far after a gas leak at LG Polymers factory in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, Thursday.
The gas leak resulted in many people lying unconscious on the roads. Others faced difficulties in breathing, some people also complained of rashes on their bodies and sore eyes.
This isn’t, however, the first time that gas leaks have resulted in deaths and illnesses in India.
The most deadly gas tragedy witnessed was in Bhopal in December 1984 in which more than 15,000 people died, but in the past few years too India has seen several other tragedies from gas leaks.
Gopal Krishna, from Toxics Watch Alliance said, “As a nation, we have no institutional memory…We have learnt no lessons from the Bhopal disaster, which is why our environmental laws remain the weakest in the world. To compound the problem, we have no political will to ensure that industrial accidents do not occur.”
ThePrint looks at gas leak tragedies in the past few years.
Steel plant in Chhattisgarh
In October 2018, nine people died and 14 were injured in a blast at the Bhilai Steel Plant of SAIL in Chhattisgarh. The explosion took place in a gas pipeline which was connected to the coke oven section of the plant. Authorities revealed that there had been uneven pressure in the gas pipeline for the past few days. The explosion occurred 40 feet above the ground, killing nine workers on the spot.
School in Delhi
In May 2017, more than 300 students of Rani Jhansi Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya in Tughlaqabad, Delhi, were hospitalised after a gas leak near their school. The leak happened in a depot located near the school in Railway Colony, Tughlaqabad. The authorities claimed that this was a chemical leakage at the customs area of Tughlaqabad depot. According to an officer of the Delhi Fire Service (DFS), around 30 students fainted.
Cold storage in Kanpur
In March 2017, four people were killed and 15 were injured in Shivrajpur, Kanpur, after an ammonia gas leak caused a powerful blast in a cold storage unit. The blast resulted in a building collapse, and more than 25 people were trapped. The facility was used to store potatoes.
GAIL pipeline in Andhra
In June 2014, 15 people were killed and 18 were injured when a fire broke out in Andhra Pradesh’s Godavari district after gas leak from a pipeline owned by GAIL. The fire spread over a 1-km radius, and people rushed out of their houses that were engulfed in flames.
Bhopal gas tragedy
The Bhopal gas tragedy is called the ‘worst industrial accident’ in history. In December 1984, over 45 tonnes of toxic methyl isocyanate gas leaked from an insecticide plant that was owned by American firm Union Carbide Corporation, killing between 15,000 and 20,000 people in the city.
Over half a million survivors suffered from respiratory problems, irritation in the eye, and blindness. Later, investigations revealed that the leakage had occurred due to substandard safety procedures at the understaffed plant.