Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy has announced Rs one crore as compensation to the families of those who died because of exposure to a toxic gas that leaked overnight at a chemical plant in Vishakhapatnam on Thursday.
Mr Reddy has also announced Rs 10 lakh for those on ventilator support after exposure, Rs 1 lakh for those who will stay in hospital for a day or two, and Rs 25,000 for those treated as out-patients after developing health complications. He also said 15,000 people were affected by the gas leak, and each family will get Rs 10,000 to cope with the trauma.
At least 11 people have been killed and 1,000 sick after styrene gas, which affects the Central Nervous System and can cause nausea, headache, sense of imbalance, skin irritation and burning eyes on exposure, leaked on Thursday morning from the tanks of a company, LG Polymers, which had been shut because of the nationwide coronavirus lockdown. As the state government eased lockdown restrictions, the company began its recommissioning operation Wednesday midnight, allegedly without taking adequate precautions, causing the leak.
Safety expert V Sriram, whose company had conducted a safety audit at the company three years ago, said they had given recommendations for safety, fearing such a leak.
"The unit was shut for 40 days, and there should have been a safety audit before restarting," he told NDTV.
At daybreak, people were found lying motionless in lanes, ditches and near houses. At least three surrounding villages were evacuated and officials went house-to-house, breaking in to pull out unconscious victims.
Up to 25 are critical, said the National Disaster Response Force, declaring the incident a chemical disaster.
The Andhra government has formed a committee to probe the gas leak. It will also give recommendations to the state government regarding prevention of such incidents.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken first-hand information about the accident from senior officials, and assured all possible assistance to the Chief Minister.
"Spoke to officials of MHA and NDMA regarding the situation in Visakhapatnam, which is being monitored closely. I pray for everyone's safety and well-being in Visakhapatnam," he tweeted.