Chlorine leaks in Mumbai port, 103 ill

8 people in critical condition as chlorine leaks from Port Trust cylinders

Chlorine leaks in Mumbai port, 103 ill

A fireman undergoes treatment after the chlorine gas leak in Mumbai on Wednesday. PTiWith the Bhopal gas disaster still fresh in the minds of people, the chlorine leak is being seen as a case of negligence, especially as several cylinders containing the hazardous gas have been lying at the MPT yard and no official taking any steps to have them disposed of.

A 45-member team of the National Disaster Response Force was brought in from Pune to figure out how to safely dispose of the remaining cylinders over the next few days.

The condition of eight people, who were brought to J J Hospital, was said to be critical. Those who were badly affected after inhaling the leaking chlorine were moved to KEM, J J and BPT hospitals in South Mumbai, their faces and eyes stinging. Almost all of them gasped for breath and screamed in pain as they were admitted to the emergency wards of hospitals.

The leak occurred around 3:15 pm from one of the cylinders stored in a warehouse for hazardous cargo, located near the Lal Bahadur Shastri College of Marine and Research Studies.

Fortunately, the building is flanked by sea on the one side and industrial facilities on the other, which minimised the impact that could otherwise have been disastrous.

Four fire fighters from the fire brigade, which was summoned to spot the leak and plug it, were also taken ill and are undergoing treatment.

Among the patients were the students of a college hostel located near the warehouse, and labourers who were sleeping outside the dormitory.

Respiratory problems

“The patients have respiratory problems but they will not cause fatalities. The gas leak happened in the area where they were sleeping. There are 14 students and all others are labourers,” J J Hospital dean Dr T P Lahane told reporters.

Some patients were discharged from hospital after treatment. Eight people who were admitted to hospitals’ critical care units continued to undergo treatment for respiratory problems, Lahane said.

By evening, 78 people, including 14 who were admitted to the medical intensive unit for throat problems, were being given medical attention.

“Due to intake of chlorine gas the patients have developed breathlessness and are facing burning sensation in their eyes, on their faces and hands,” he added.

The BPT said in a statement that 136 cylinders, including the one from which the gas escaped, were lying on BPT’s Hay Bandar premises for the last several years. These were imported in 1997 but the importers did not take delivery.

The Shipping Ministry has ordered the MPT to file a detailed report.
Maharashtra Health Minister Vijay Kumar Gavit who visited affected people in J J Hospital said most of the affected people are likely to be discharged in two to three days. An inquiry will begin shortly, he added.

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