Kollam: Seventy children were on Thursday hospitalised as they took ill after allegedly inhaling `smoke` emanating from a plant of state-owned Kerala Minerals and Metals Limited (KMML) at Chavara near Kollam, prompting authorities to temporarily shut it down.
The condition of none of the children, students of three nearby schools, was stated to be serious, hospital sources said.
The children were rushed to nearby hospitals after they developed symptoms of uneasiness and some of them vomited.
The incident sparked protest in the area with local people converging before the plant alleging that the company had failed to improve safety measures despite recurrence of such incidents.
According to officials of the plant, which processes minerals and metals, the smoke was caused by burning of charcoal and "not very dangerous or obnoxious".
State home minister Ramesh Cehnnithala visited the hospitals where children were admitted and said a high-level inquiry would be ordered into the incident.
He told reporters that a team of scientists and engineers would be deputed to the study the problem and suggest measures for putting in place a foolproof the safety mechanism.
Following protests, the Inspectorate of Factories and Boilers, the state regulator for safety of factories, ordered closure of the plant till "corrective measures" are taken.