14 people were rushed to hospitals in the vicinity and later discharged.

Ammonia gas leak in Kochi triggers panic situation under control Representational image: Aswin Krishna Poyil via Wikimedia Commons
news Accident Sunday, January 28, 2018 - 09:54

There was panic at Kochiā€™s Wellington Island on Saturday afternoon after Ammonia gas leaked into the air, from a facility of the Fertilisers And Chemicals Travancore (FACT).

Fortunately, the mishap did not result in any loss of life.

Students who were present in schools nearby, complained of breathing problems. 14 people were rushed to hospitals in the vicinity and later discharged.

Two fire officers, one at the Medical Trust Hospital and another at Port Trust Hospital are presently under medical supervision, but reports suggest that their condition is stable.

Out of them, Sethu Nandan, who made an effort to seal the leak, was admitted with 2% burns, while CISF constable Jacquard was shifted to the hospital after experiencing nausea and shivering, due to the mishap.

According to the police, the leak occurred at around 1:30 pm and was brought under control soon, as it was not a major mishap. The police also said that the leak occurred on a Saturday, a partial holiday, which helped them in the relief operations and in damage control.

According to reports, the faulty nozzle of a gas tanker is suspected to be the source of the leak.

Soon after the leak, a rapid response team from the Health Department rushed to the spot and made emergency arrangements.

Another team of the disaster management authority, led by Deputy Collector Sheela Devi, held a meeting with officials of the company.

Traffic was also diverted from the area to prevent further complexities.

The incident in Kochi occurred after a slightly bigger ammonia leak was detected in Goa on January 19, when a gas tanker turned turtle. The accident at Goa had occurred in the wee hours of the day and people had to be woken up, before being ferried to a safer location, reports said.

Ammonia is colourless gas with a strong pungent smell and is a key component for refrigeration, fertilisers and is used as a raw material for many industries including the pharmaceutical sector.

The substance is even found in domestic cleaning solutions, but high concentration of Ammonia in the atmosphere is hazardous and can also be inflammable.

According to the Bureau of Indian Standards, inhalation of high concentrations produces violent coughing due to its local action on the respiratory tract. If rapid escape is not possible, it can result in severe lung irritation, pulmonary edema and even death. Lower concentrations cause eye irritation, pulmonary edema and bronchitis.