VISAKHAPATNAM: More than 100 women employees of a garment manufacturing unit fell sick after inhaling leaked toxic gas at Atchutapuram Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Anakapalle district on Tuesday. This was the second time a gas leak was reported in the SEZ in as many months.
At least five women are on ventilator support at the Anakapalle Area Hospital. The condition of others is stable. A few women, who fainted after complaining of nausea and started vomiting, were provided first-aid at the firm, before shifting them to hospitals at Atchutapuram and Anakapalle.
In a statement, the firm Seeds Intimate Apparel India Private Limited located at the Brandix India Apparel City, said a "few of our associates complained of an unpleasant odour. They were taken to the closest hospital." It also said the company premises were evacuated soon after the incident.
District police chief Gautami Shali said the gas leak was noticed around 6.45 pm. “More than 2,000 women were working in the afternoon shift that would have ended at 10 pm,’’ she said. Authorities have not identified the gas or its source.
According to Anakapalle revenue officials, some workers rushed out of the unit after experiencing nausea. Quoting the doctors attending to the women, the RDO said most women would be discharged after keeping them under observation for the next 24 hours.
Meanwhile, district Collector Ravi Subhash Pattasani has ordered an inquiry into the gas leak. SP Shali said they were probing the incident to find the source of the leak, adding that the police have collected information from the company representatives and workers. All employees were sent home after the incident.
Minister for IT and Industry Gudivada Amarnath enquired with the district collector about the gas leak. He asked the officials to ensure better medical care for the affected. TDP general secretary Nara Lokesh and BJP State chief Somu Veerraju condemned the incident and demanded the government to extend the best treatment to the women.
Earlier, on June 3, over 200 workers fell sick at the Brandix Apparel plant after being exposed to toxic fumes. Many of them, including several pregnant women, complained of nausea and difficulty in breathing.
Following the incident, the government closed Porus Lab in the vicinity for a week. The government then set up a joint panel with officials and experts to enquire into the incident.