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Ludhiana gas leak: 11 killed in India's Punjab state

Ludhiana gas leak: 11 killed in India's Punjab state

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 A gas leak killed 11 people in northern India on Sunday, including two children, although the cause of the incident is still under investigation.

The leak happened in Giaspura, an industrial area of Ludhiana in the northern state of Punjab.

An official, who asked not to be named, said the type of gas and the source of the leak had yet to be determined.

"Eleven dead and four in hospital. Rescue operation is on," the official told AFP.

Five women, four men and two boys aged 10 and 13 were killed, according to local officials cited by India media.

Ludhiana Deputy Commissioner Surabhi Malik told the PTI news agency it was possible that the gas may have spread from manholes.

“We are going to collect samples from manholes. It is quite likely that some chemical reacted with methane in manholes,” she said.

Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann said on Twitter that the leak came from a factory but did not provide more details.

“All possible help is being provided,” he wrote.

Industrial gas leaks are common in India and are often blamed on poor safety standards and insufficient checks.

Last August, at least 112 women were admitted to hospital after a gas leak at a clothes manufacturing plant in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. About 200 women fell unconscious after a gas leak in the same area in June, broadcaster NDTV reported.

In 2020, at least 15 people were killed and hundreds taken to hospital after a gas leak at a chemical plant in Visakhapatnam, an industrial port city in the same state.

Nearly 1,000 people were exposed to the gas and more than 500 were admitted to hospital with symptoms of severe respiratory distress and skin and eye irritation.

Residents were found slumped in the streets after exposure, forcing a large-scale evacuation around the plant.

The predawn accident took place at a chemical plant owned by LG Polymers, a subsidiary of South Korea's LG Chem.

Styrene gas leaked from tanks at the polystyrene manufacturing unit that had been lying idle for weeks due to the nationwide coronavirus lockdown.

Two senior South Korean executives and 10 other local employees of LG Polymers were arrested and charged with offences, including the Indian legal equivalent of manslaughter.

A 4,000-page government report accused the firm of negligence and said the disaster was due to a lack of safety protocols and poor emergency response.

The incident sparked memories of one of India's worst industrial disasters in 1984, when a gas leak from a Union Carbide pesticide plant killed at least 3,500 people in Bhopal, central India.

Children are still born disfigured, with webbed feet and hands, and experience stunted growth because of the gas that affected their mothers.

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