People in Mangalore, Surathkal, Kuloor, Bejai, Malori and neighbouring areas went in a tizzy on Friday afternoon as a gas odour pervaded the atmosphere, sparking off rumours of a gas leak.
People were visibly frightened, with many of them rushing to their neighbours to check whether there was any gas leak.
The fire brigade, flooded with calls, initially suspected a gas leak from one of the industries in the region. However, even the fire officials confirmed that there was no malfunctioning at the MRPL, MCF and HPCL units.
Chief fire officer H S Varadarajan said eight fire engines were pressed into service, as the department received calls from Baikampady, Kuloor, Surathkal, Yeyyady, Maroli, Kadri, Bikarnakatte and Shakthinagara.
The smell subsided around 3:30 pm. “It started smelling gas around 1:30 pm. I checked my house first and then asked my neighbours whether there was any leakage in their LPG cylinder,” said a local, Stella Pinto.
Chandravathi of Kavoor Dota said she panicked after smelling gas in the air. “Then I realised that the entire area had the smell.”
“I heard rumours of children being evacuated from schools. I was worried over my son and called up the school to check. I found out that the children were safe,” said Reshma from Shakthinagar.
Dakshina Kannada Deputy Commissioner N Prakash said immediately after receiving a call around 2 pm, he directed the Mangalore city corporation commissioner to visit the spot.
“A team of officials from the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), fire services, factories and boilers visited and inspected the spot. The source of the leakage has not yet been confirmed. There was no leakage in the industries. It might have been from a gas tanker.”
Sources said the leakage was probably from a moving gas tanker as the smell was overbearing along a particular route, Surathkal to Padil.
Almost all the calls were received from this region, said the source. Meanwhile, MRPL said in a release that there was no gas leak at its unit.
“Environment department engineers will arrive with specialised meters to assist the KSPCB to identify the gas so that the source can be identified. It is definitely not MRPL,” said the release.
Speaking to Deccan Herald, KSPCB senior environment officer Laxman said a team visited a few places to collect air samples.
“The smell was similar to that of gas from domestic cylinder. The exact reason will be known after a lab test. It is suspected that the odour might have been from a moving LPG tanker,” he said.
Factories and boilers deputy director Nanjappa said: “The smell might have emanated due to the formation of gas or volatile organic compounds in the sea, which is a rare phenomenon.”