Ludhiana, June 13 (IANS) At least five people were killed and over 100 hospitalised after ammonia gas leaked from a tanker on the outskirts of this industrial town in Punjab, police said on Saturday.
The incident occurred near Doraha town on the Delhi-Ludhiana highway late on Friday.
“A tanker got stuck under a bridge owing to its low height. Its valve got damaged, resulting in the leak,” Senior Superintendent of Police Gurpreet Singh told IANS.
Earlier, police said the death toll was six.
He said around 100 people have been admitted to hospitals in Ludhiana, Khanna and Doraha. Most of them have been discharged after first aid.
Police have shifted the locals from the affected area to safer places as a precautionary measure, he added.
Many of them have reported uneasiness in breathing and some of them fainted.
Police have registered a case against the driver, who is missing after the incident.
Punjab Health Minister Surjit Kumar Jyani told reporters in Chandigarh that he came to know about the incident at 1.30 a.m.
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal directed the Ludhiana deputy commissioner and the senior superintendent of police to conduct an inquiry, he said.
The government announced an ex-gratia Rs.100,000 to the next of kin of the dead. All medical expenses of the gas-hit would be borne by the state government.
Official sources said the impact of the gas leak was felt even more than two kilometres from the accident site.
“Over 1,000 people residing in the vicinity of the accident scene were directly affected,” said an official.
Twenty patients, mostly complaining of eye irritation and nausea, were admitted to the Civil Hospital in Ludhiana.
As a precautionary measure, the district administration summoned teams of the National Disaster Response Force from Laddowal in Ludhiana and Bathinda.
The teams assisted the local administration to evacuate the locals and those affected by the gas leak.
Water was poured on the tanker to reduce the impact of the ammonia gas. At 11 a.m. strong winds spread the ammonia gas to a larger area, leading to panic in two nearby villages.