At least 13 persons are dead and more than 1,000 reported ill after a Thursday morning toxic gas release at a polymers plant in Visakhapatnam, India, that summons up frightening memories of the 1984 Bhopal disaster.
At about 3 a.m., a massive gas release escaped from the LG Polymers plant that uses styrene as raw material, media reports state. Highly flammable, styrene produces toxic fumes when burnt.
The Times of India reports that the release led to panic among those living within a wide radius of the plant. Many people were seen lying unconscious on roads while other suffered breathing difficulties, eye irritation and skin rashes.
Fatalities reported so far include two elderly residents and an 8-year-old child. ABP News reports that 100 people have been admitted to hospitals. Other media report that hundreds have been admitted to private and government hospitals.
A three-kilometer radius of the plant has been evacuated and cordoned off.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to state that the National Disaster Management Authority had been activated to access the situation.
“I pray for everyone’s safety and well-being in Visakhapatnam,” Modi wrote.
In 1984, at least 3,787 people died after a gas leak from the Union Carbide India Limited pesticide plant in Bhopal. As recently as last year 21 workers at a plant in Nira-Nimbut were hospitalized after a chemical leak.