The LG Polymers plant is located in the city of Vishakapatnam, in India’s southern state of Andhra Pradesh. The gas leak at the plant took place in the early hours of Thursday morning local time, said the city’s Police Commissioner Rajiv Kumar Meena.
The leak happened near a village home to 3,000 to 4,000 residents, who the police alerted via an announcement over loudspeakers, Meena said. Photos from the city show hospital staff attending to several children and toddlers lying in beds, and cows lying unconscious on dirt roads near the affected area.
“When we arrived on the spot a lot of people were lying on the ground unconscious and we evacuated around 1,000 people and rushed them to the hospital. Of these, around 100 are seriously ill,” said Tej Bharath, the Vizag Revenue Divisional Officer.
The plant had reopened after lockdown restrictions were eased, with the gas leak occurring during the process of re-starting operations, according to Bharath. The gas has been identified as Styrene, a flammable liquid that is used to make a variety of industrial products, including polystyrene, fiberglass, rubber, and latex.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet that he had spoken with officials regarding the leak, and was monitoring the situation.
“I pray for everyone’s safety and well-being in Visakhapatnam,” he tweeted.
The state’s chief minister is also set to visit the city hospital where residents are being treated, his office confirmed in a tweet.
“The Chief Minister is closely monitoring the situation and has directed the district officials to take every possible step to save lives and bring the situation under control,” said the tweet.
Local authorities and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are on the ground responding to the leak. Evacuation operations are nearly complete, according to a senior NDRF official.
The city’s civic authority, the Greater Vishakapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC), warned residents to stay indoors during the response effort.
“There is gas leakage identified at LG Polymers in Gopalpatnam. Requesting Citizens around these locations not to come out of houses for the sake of safety precautions,” GVMC tweeted. “As precautionary measures, the colonies and villages around the industry may leave to safer locations. Please use wet cloth as mask to cover nose and mouth.”