At least 11 people have died and 11 have been admitted to hospital after a gas leak in Ludhiana in the northern Indian state of Punjab, according to a top city official, who added that the entire area was being evacuated.
A team from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) was at the site on Sunday, according to a video feed shared by the ANI news agency. Police were seen patrolling while wearing masks and asking locals to keep out of an area that had been cordoned off, the video showed.
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Bhagwant Mann, Punjab’s chief minister, expressed sadness over the deadly leak.
“The incident of gas leak in the factory in Giaspura area of Ludhiana is very sad,” Mann said in a tweet. “Police, government and NDRF teams are present at the spot. All possible help is being provided.”
Ludhiana Deputy Commissioner Surabhi Malik told reporters the deaths were a likely result of “gas contamination”.
“It is quite likely that maybe some chemical reacted with methane in manholes,” she was quoted as saying by ANI. “… All of this is being verified. NDRF is retrieving samples.”
India was the site of one of the worst industrial disasters in history when gas leaked from a pesticide plant in the central city of Bhopal in 1984. About 3,500 people, mainly locals living in shanties around the Union Carbide plant, died in the days that followed and thousands more in the following years. People still suffer its after-effects now.
In 2020, a gas leak near a chemical plant in the southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh killed at 11 people. At least 800 were taken to hospital with breathing difficulties and irritated skin.
At least 200 pupils were admitted to hospital after a gas leak in 2017 near their school in southern New Delhi.