United News of India
Cuddalore, Mar 8 (UNI)
More than 100 people, including women and children, were hospitalised and about 2,000 were evacuated as gas leaked from a chemical factory at SIPCOT Industrial Estate here last night and engulfed about fivehamlets located near the estate.
People ran out of their houses in panic as the gas from Shasun Chemicals Factory, located in the estate, about 12 km from here, descended on Kudikadu, Eechangadu and three other hamlets.
While those living close to the estate suffered giddiness and fainted, others suffered irritation in eyes and vomiting. They were all admitted to the Government Hospital and were being given emergency treatment.
As the situation threatened to worsen, District Collector P Seetharaman, with police officials, reached the spot and advised people to leave the villages. He told the people through a public address system that, while there was no threat to their lives, the gas, said to be bromine, would cause irritation in skin and eyes.
Later, about 2,000 villagers were accommodated in schools and marriage halls. The Collector, accompanied by the Superintendent of Police, also visited the factory and directed the officials to immediately remove the bromine stocks.
The factory was keeping the unused gas in bottles and cylinders in its godown, inside the factory complex.
The workers, however, were not affected as they wore masks and followed other precautionary measures soon after the leak broke out, police said. Tension prevailed the whole of last night as people remained restless. At one stage, they ransacked the security office of the factory and staged a road block around midnight, bringing to halt traffic on the busy Cuddalore-Chidambaram Road and East Coast Road.
They dispersed only after the police and district administration assured action against the factory.
Meanwhile, officials from Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board visited the factory this morning to take stock of the situation as the affected villagers continued to stay in the schools and marriage halls.