Berhampur: Over 40 people, including women
and children, were taken ill and some of them fell unconscious
after chlorine gas leaked from a cylinder of water supply
department today, officials said here.
The affected persons included school children, women,
government officials and media persons, they said.
The cylinder, belonging to water supply department of
Paralakhemundi in Gajapati district was kept here for filling.
Chlorine gas is used to purify water inside tanks.
"We suspect that a small quantity of gas left in the
900-litre capacity cylinder, brought for filling, leaked when
someone tried to fiddle with its brass nozzle," executive
engineer, urban drinking water supply department, D S
Mohapatra said here.
Panic gripped the area after the gas spread over a
radius of about 200 meters and plants in the area turned
yellowish after being exposed to it.
The affected people complained of nausea and vomiting
while several fell unconscious. They were admitted to MKCG
Medical College and Hospital here.
While some were discharged after first aid, several
others are undergoing treatment. Their condition is stable,
hospital superintendent J K Behera said.
My head was reeling, when I tried to lock the
cylinder," a department employee Debaraj Kothia said.
Maguni Behera, a constable of the fire station here,
said he also felt similar when he tried to spray water.
Many panic-stricken people were spotted leaving their
localities after the gas leaked. District administration also
ordered closure of schools in nearby areas.
"Although spread of the gas subsided, we ordered for
the closure of schools in nearby areas as a precautionary
measure," said sub-collector (Berhampur) Ajit Mishra.
He said there was no cause of panic as the
administration has taken immediate steps to tackle it.
Fire personnel were also engaged to spray water in the
area, while personnel of the gas supplying company reached the
spot to take the cylinder away, he added.
Meanwhile, Gopalpur MLA Pradip Panigrahi demanded a
high-level inquiry to ascertain the cause of the gas leak.