Seven persons were detained and a probe ordered on Thursday into the leak of harmful gas at a private seafood processing plant in Odisha's Balasore district which left over 100 people sick, officials said.
A case has been registered in Khantapada police station in connection with leakage of harmful gas in the factory at Khantapada and a special forensic team sent to assist in the investigation, Director General of Police (DGP), BK Sharma said.
Seven officials of the plant have been detained for questioning. A six-member team of forensic experts have reached the spot as part of the investigation, he said.
Around 100 people, mostly women, fell sick after toxic gas leaked from the prawn processing plant in Khantapada area on Wednesday night. The affected people were taken to the Khantapada primary health centre and most of them were later shifted to the district headquarters hospital, an official said.
District Collector K Sudarsan Chakrabarty and SP B Jugalkishore who visited the plant and hospital also said the condition of all the affected people was stable and many of them have been discharged from hospital after proper treatment.
IG of Police (Eastern Range), Diptesh Pattanayak, said the factory has been sealed and inquiry into the incident has started to ascertain the circumstances that led to the mishap.
State Labour Minister Susant Singh visited the hospital and said the priority is to ensure safety of affected people and their recovery.
The minister said the Labour Commissioner will investigate the incident and will also find out whether children were engaged in the factory.
"Stern action will be taken against those responsible for the accident," Mr Singh said.
It appears that the workers were taken ill due to chlorine gas, but things will be clear after a thorough investigation, the Collector said.
According to the police, the incident took place at around 9 pm when the gas leaked from the plant located at Panapana, mostly affecting workers of the factory who complained of breathing problems.
Terming the incident as unfortunate, owner of the private seafood processing unit, Tara Patnaik said he was praying for the speedy recovery of those affected.
Tara Patnaik claimed that there was no gas leak from the plant and the incident happened due to bleaching materials stored in the factory for processing.
Seafood, mostly prawn, are being processed at the plant and sent for exports after packaging, sources said.