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Panic in Chennai after gas leak

india Updated: Dec 06, 2007 12:31 IST

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A strong stench of noxious gas that was left out of a petroleum plant has caused panic among people in the Tamil Nadu capital.

On Wednesday the people in north Chennai complained of nausea and giddiness due the chemical odour amid fears of heavy gas leakage.

The leakage occurred during a cleaning process of one of the plants of petroleum major Chennai Petroleum Corporation Ltd (CPCL) in Manali in northern outskirts, 50 km outside the city. The fumes spread to as far as the Egmore railway station in Central Chennai.

Two women identified as Uma Bharati and Mahalakshmi and some workers in the plant were affected.

The fear continued Thursday and some parents did not send their children to schools. Several educational institutions were closed in many areas of the metropolis.

Police have registered a case under section 278 and 284 (negligence) of the IPC against the CPCL as Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPB) also suspended all refinery units, including those not of the CPCL, in the area.

CPCL officials, who did not want to be named, said the fluoride catalytic cracking unit (a chemical unit that separates diesel and petrol from crude) had precipitated gases, which are let out into the atmosphere during cleaning process.

On Wednesday, as it is the rainy season in Chennai coast, the gases failed to lift up, and instead spread into residential areas of Villivakkam, Egmore, Perambur and other neighbouring suburbs, the officials said.

According to the officials the plant is cleaned every two years and any residue gas to is let out into the air.

Deputy commissioner of police in North Chennai Nanchil Kumaran has asked the people not to panic as rumours also spread that Wednesday's gas could be the result of a "terror attack".