Two dead, four hospitalised after gas leak in India pharma plant

At least two workers have been killed and four others sickened by gas that leaked from a pharmaceutical plant in an Indian industrial city where another fatal gas leak occurred last month.

“The fire brigade immediately reached the scene and plugged the leak,” police commissioner Rajeev Kumar Meena said of the incident that occurred at approximately 2am on Tuesday (20:30 GMT on Monday) at the Sainor Life Sciences pharmaceutical plant in Visakhapatnam in India’s Andhra Pradesh state.

The injured workers were hospitalised and in stable condition, authorities said.

“Six people working at the plant inhaled the toxic gas. Two died on the scene while four others are being treated at a hospital,” local police officer Udaya Kumar said by phone.

The unit was shut down immediately after the leak as a precautionary measure, and the gas had not spread in nearby areas, police said.

Benzimidazole, a chemical compound found in many antifungal and antiparasitic drugs that contains cancer-causing benzene, was released in a gas form, Meena said.

An investigation was ordered to establish the cause of the leak.

On May 7, another industrial accident in the same city killed 12 people in the community around a plastics factory, and about 1,000 others were hospitalised due to exposure to gas.

Styrene gas leaked from the LG Polymers’ plant in Visakhapatnam as workers restarted the plant after a six-week coronavirus lockdown ended.

The latest incident is likely to add more grist to local public demand for closure of hazardous industries that are within city limits, or their relocation to safer areas.

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