Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Over 120 ill after inhaling gas

Over 120 ill after inhaling gas
TIMES NEWS NETWORK

Bangalore: Over 120 persons became breathless on Monday after inhaling chlorine gas from a leaking cylinder at Kodichikkanahalli near Bommanahalli — a hub of garment factories. The cylinder was found dumped in an open shed in a vacant site.
Around 9.30 am, an obnoxious gas engulfed the area and residents of the nearby apartments and garment workers complained of irritation in the eye and nausea. Some even collapsed. They had to be rushed to the nearby hospitals. All of them, except a 35-yearold woman, were discharged by evening. The woman is in the ICU at St John’s Hospital.
The Fire Force personnel and the police rushed to the spot. The fire personnel buried the cylinder and sprinkled water to reduce the effect of the gas. The spot was exactly in front of Excel garment factory unit from where more than 60 people claimed to have irritation in the eye, rashes and other symptoms. Pramod, owner of Excel garment factory unit which has nearly 400 workers, stated that he had arranged for the ambulances and took all the sick workers to the hospitals.Police arrested site owner Hanif Solanki and booked a case of negligence against him. POISONED AIR LEAVES SCORES BREATHLESS Oxygen Diluted The Otherwise Dangerous Chlorine Gas Site Owner Booked For Negligence
Bangalore: Monday morning was not the same for garment factory workers and residents of a lane at Kodichikkanahalli, near Bommanahalli on Hosur Road. Around 9.30 am, an obnoxious smelling gas engulfed the area and many of them complained of nausea and vomiting. Some even collapsed.
It was soon learned that a chlorine gas cylinder on a vacant site, abandoned for more than a year, was leaking. By then, more people began complaining of breathlessness. Ambulances were rushed in to shift scores of people to nearby hospitals.
WHY WAS IT THERE?
The cylinder was located in an open garment washing unit that was abandoned a year ago. The site is adjacent to a residential complex and several garment factories. Chlorine gas is used for bleaching waste garments. Even plants in the vicinity turned yellow after Monday morning’s leak.
Forensic Sciences Laboratory officer Ravindra, who visited the spot, said it was chlorine gas used for bleaching cloth. As the leakage was in an open area, mixing with oxygen reduced the intensity of the poisonous gas, which otherwise would have caused more casualties.
NOT SAFE EVEN 1 KM AWAY
Most of the affected persons were women, some of whom were pregnant. Meenakshi, 27, a worker at nearby Konark Synthetic Ltd, said: “It was around 9.45 am. We had just started to work when we smelled something foul. Initially, we suspected burning due to a short circuit within the factory. But we soon realized it was gas from the opposite site. We were asked to vacate the place immediately. Hundreds of people starting running on the roads. We could smell it even 1 kilometre away. Some started collapsing, vomiting. By then, the ambulance had arrived and we were rushed to the hospital.”
CHAOS AT HOSPITALS
Hospitals in the area were not prepared for the sudden rush of patients. When more than 90 persons, majority of them garment factory workers, complained of breathlessness and nausea, they were rushed to the emergency casualty ward at St John’s Hospital around 10.30 am.
There was chaos at the hospital. Shortage of beds forced the hospital staff to administer first-aid on the floors. However, most of them were treated as out-patients and discharged by 1 pm. Manjula, 30, was admitted to the ICU.
The discharged persons complained of uneasiness, chest pain and headache till late in the evening. Some of them were treated at Nimhans, Kavya Nursing Home and Prashant Nursing Home in Bommanahalli. Doctors said all patients are stable.
Doctors at St John’s Hospital said inhaling the gas caused breathing difficulty, cough and headache. “They were given oxygen support and some had to be administered steriods,” a doctor said.
CHILDREN DEVELOP RASHES
Residents of Ittina Sarva-II apartment, adjacent to the site from where the leakage started, were most affected. Anuradha, a resident, said: “Some of the children developed rashes on the face.” U Akbar, in charge of the apartment maintenance, said: “More than 10 children suffered from suffocation and breathlessness. They were taken to the nearby hospital. Though, there are no casualties, the incident has created panic among parents.”
HUB OF GARMENT INDUSTRIES
The area is a hub of garment factories with more than 50 units. Some major apparel companies have five to six units there, with one having 14 on Begur Road in Bommanahalli. According to the locals, more than 1,000 people work at every unit. Every day, more than 25,000 people work at the factories here in shifts.
NEGLIGENCE CASE BOOKED
DCP (South-East) BNS Reddy said the site belonged to Hanif Solanki, 60. He had leased it to a garment exporter, Syed. “The shed where the cylinder was found was earlier used for segregation of rags. The cylinder leaked accidentally in the morning, causing eye irritation and nausea among those who inhaled it.”
Police have booked a case of negligence against Solanki and arrested him. A native of Rajasthan, he came to the city 22 years ago and runs washing units in Bommanahalli, where he resides. He told the police he was unaware of the cylinder dumped on the site. But police suspect he was aware.
toiblr.reporter@timesgroup.com

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