Army joins gas leak probe, 3,500 evacuated | india | Hindustan Times
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Army joins gas leak probe, 3,500 evacuated

india Updated: Jul 24, 2009 14:40 IST

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Military experts arrived in Bhiwandi township near Mumbai on Friday to assist the civil administration probing a chlorine gas leak the day before. At least 59 people fell seriously ill after inhaling the fumes. The incident forced the evacuation of 3,500 people, officials said.

According to Sudesh Punyarthi, chief of Bhiwandi Disaster Management department, a discarded cylinder containing 900 kg of chlorine gas, belonging to the Bhiwandi-Nizampur Municipal Corporation's sewerage department, leaked after an explosion in a civic dumping ground.

The powerloom township of Bhiwandi is around 45 km northeast of Mumbai.

"While most of the chlorine gas is believed to have dissipated in the air, the army experts and our technical officials are trying to ascertain if there is any more left which could create problems," Punyarthi told IANS.

At least nine women fell unconscious after they inhaled the fumes and were admitted to the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital nearby.

Fifty more people complained of nausea and difficulty in breathing and were treated in local hospitals, an official of the disaster management department said. All of them were discharged by Friday.

As a precautionary measure, the civic authorities evacuated around 3,500 people living in the slums around the dumping ground.

"They will be permitted to return only after the army and civic experts complete their investigations," a civic official added.

Apart from the army, teams of the disaster management department, fire brigade, health department are at the site which has been cordoned off by the police.

There were no casualties in the incident. The remaining one million people in the township were not affected at all, a police official said.