VISAKHAPATNAM: King George Hospital echoed with the cries of the LG Polymers gas leak victims and their family members from the wee hours of Thursday.
Tens of ambulances were doing the rounds from around 5 am, after officials received information from the locals. As the gas leak intensified, people ran out of their houses when they started feeling dizzy and losing visibility.
By the time officials and medical staff reached RR Venkatapuram, many people had fallen unconscious. Meanwhile, the residents of the area informed their relatives, who came to rescue of the victims.
Rajyalakshmi, who helped identify the victims, told TNIE many people didn’t know there was a leakage.
“My sister-in-law called me as she was unsure of what was happening and said her eyes were burning and there was smoke. We rushed there, woke up her neighbours, and realised there was a gas leakage. By then, some ambulances and fire trucks had arrived, so we just took everyone we could find and put them in ambulances and rescue vans,” she recounted.
People were separated from their families, and after regaining consciousness in the hospital, they grew worried and started looking for their relatives. But most of them were admitted in different hospitals, such as KGH, Apollo and KIMS, among others.
“My brother and his family live beside LG Polymers. We could only find him and his wife at KGH, not their children. My sister-in-law kept asking for them,” said Krishna Bhaskar.
After making multiple calls to various hospitals and doctors, Bhaskar located the children at the Gopalpatnam Government Hospital. Many victims and their relatives had similar struggles and received little help from officials and medical staff.
After reaching the hospital, the victims were given oxygen and told to rest. Some were put on ventilators and given medication. Patients who had regained consciousness and were feeling better were told to get some fresh air. More tests will be conducted on them, and they will be under observation for 24 hours.
While still worried and grieving, relatives, victims and others were ordered by the police to leave the wards after Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy announced that he would visit the hospital.
The public could not go to Rajendra Prasad ward and Bhavnagar ward for more than two hours due to a police drill for the CM’s visit.
Though disturbed, they were glad that the Chief Minister was visiting.
“It’s a relief that the CM is serious about such accidents and is taking immediate measures to help. Now that officials are involved, we will find a better way to deal with such accidents and our family will be safe,” Teja, a victim’s relative said.
Doctors, equipment and treatment
As many as 316 victims were admitted to KGH, private hospitals, and community centres. While KGH took aid from the Navy for equipment to treat victims, private hospitals were reluctant to give information about their equipment.
With some doctors busy with Covid-19 duties, about 200 PG residents under the supervision of a few senior doctors, treated the victims of the gas leak, said Andhra Medical College principal Dr Sudhakar.
“As of now, we are using the Multifeed Oxygen Manifolds (MOM) through which about six people can be given oxygen at a time. The situation is under control for now, with the help from the Navy, which provided MOM, and the existing equipment in the hospital. However, we will need more ventilators if the effect of the styrene lingers,” he explained.
Given the fear of the spread of COVID-19, GVMC officials ensured the premises of all the wards with the victims were disinfected.
While the victims and family members were grieving over the incident, the transgender community and volunteers served water and food to them.
Some took the initiative to constantly remind people about social distancing in the hospital premises.