Over 50 fall sick in Chavara gas leak

KOLLAM: Around 57 students from the Government Boys Higher Secondary School, Chavara, were admitted to various hospitals following a gas leakage from the titanium sponge plant of Kerala Minerals and Metals Ltd.

Around 14 students are in the Intensive Care Unit of government and private hospitals here and are under observation, though doctors said their condition improved by evening.

The school authorities on Wednesday morning came to know of the gas leakage from the sponge plant, situated 300 meters away, when three students fainted during the assembly and another student started vomiting.

“Many students began complaining of uneasiness in a few hours. Though the lingering smell of the gas was present from Wednesday night, we did not realize it was something serious until the students fainted,” head master-in-charge K Abdul Rahim said. He said a holiday was declared and many students went to the hospital after reaching home. 

Kollam RDO P Sajeev, who inspected the site, said it was too early to comment on the toxicity of the fumes. “We have asked a team of experts to probe the leakage. They will conduct an inquiry and submit a report to the collector,” he said.

Meanwhile, KMML managing director Michael Vetha Sirmony said gas from the chlorinator could have blown towards the Government Boys Higher Secondary School situated 300 metres from the plant. “When we knew about the incident, the KMML medical superintendent and his team rushed to the school in an ambulance and provided necessary medical aid. The leak was sealed immediately,” he said. The KMML MD clarified that the gas was not chlorine based but a petroleum burning gas.

Three years ago, 100 students were admitted to hospitals following a similar gas leakage.

Last month, the residents of Chittoor village had staged a protest in front of KMML for not providing a rehabilitation package for those affected by pollution caused by the company.

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