At least 9 people were killed in southern India by a gas leak at a South Korean-owned factory making polystyrene products, with emergency services rushing over 300 people to hospitals and evacuating 1,500 from a nearby village, a police official said.
The accident occurred some 14 kilometres (9 miles) inland from the east coast city of Visakhapatnam, in Andhra Pradesh state, at a plant operated by LG Polymers, a unit of South Korea’s biggest petrochemical maker, LG Chem Ltd.
Srijana Gummalla, Commissioner, Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation said styrene leaked from the plant during the early hours of the morning, when families in the surrounding villages were asleep.
A spokesman for LG Chem in Seoul said the leak was discovered by a night shift maintenance worker and has been brought under control.
According to both the company spokesman and Gummalla, the plant was being reopened after India relaxed a nationwide lockdown that had been imposed on March 25 to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.
Swarupa Rani, an Assistant Commissioner of Police in Visakhapatnam told Reuters that at least 9 people had died and between 300-400 were hospitalised. Another 1,500 people had been evacuated, mostly from a neighbouring village.
“All those who have been hospitalised are currently stable,” said Dr B. K. Naik, a local health official.
Areas within an approximately 3-kilometre (nearly 2-mile)radius of the plant were vulnerable, the municipal corporation said in a tweet. Cross-referencing maps of the affected area, there is at least one coronavirus containment zone in the neighbourhood.