Hundreds of residents of RR Venkatapuram and other adjoining areas, who were offered shelter at function halls and government buildings after the deadly gas leak at the LG Polymers chemical plant in Visakhapatnam, have evacuated those facilities fearing that another leak may occur.
On Thursday 3 am, a hazardous vapour leaked from the LG Polymers chemical plant, causing nausea, a burning sensation and breathing difficulties for local residents. Many residents fell unconscious as well. The incident has claimed 12 lives so far, and hundreds are reportedly still hospitalised.
At least 2,000 residents from Naidu Thota, RR Venkatapuram, Gopalapatnam, SC Colony and other clusters, who had escaped the gas leak, were shifted to temporary shelters. But in the early hours of Friday, a second wave of panic was triggered. As the Disaster Management team and officials were attempting to neutralise the leak, there was a â€śminiscule technical leakâ€ť from the plant.
Though officials clarified that the second leak was very small, residents who had escaped the initial leak on Thursday feared for their lives and left the rehabilitation centres the next day.
Speaking to TNM, Ganesh Kumar, in-charge of the rehabilitation centres, said, â€śFrom the 17 function halls converted into rehabilitation centres, almost everyone evacuated the very next day. The residents left for their relativesâ€™ places far away from the plant, fearing another gas leak. There is a mild gas smell in the air, which is causing panic among the people,â€ť he said.
The government had set up at least 20 shelters at government offices, schools, function halls and on temple premises for the residents who had been evacuated from villages surrounding the factory following the leak.
According to G Srijana, the Commissioner for the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation, there are currently only around 1,100 residents at the temporary shelters. â€śMost of the centres have been evacuated as they left for their family, friendsâ€™ and relativesâ€™ homes,â€ť she said.
Aruna, a resident who has been sheltered at Simhachalam Devasthanam, felt helpless over the situation. â€śWe too are scared and want to leave these centres, but all our relatives are from the same neighbourhood. Many of them are in hospitals,â€ť she said.
Meanwhile, on Friday, the agitated residents staged a protest at the company while displaying the bodies of those who had died, demanding the closure of the plant. After brief tension, the police halted the protest.