KARACHI: Around 70 people were hospitalised due to a gas leak at a chemical factory in the Bin Qasim Town area recently. This caused fear and panic among people, rescue services and hospital staff in the wake of recent deaths from a gas leak in the Karachi Port Trust area, as per officials.
The incident prompted provincial authorities to close the industrial unit operations and constitute a committee to conduct a thorough probe into its safety and environmental standards.
Bin Qasim Station House Officer (SHO) Mohammed Ali said the gas leaked from the Engro Polymer and Chemicals Plant, which manufactures PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) plastic pipes, affecting around 67 persons.
He said the police were informed that ‘chlorine’ leaked from one of the pipes.
Rescue services complained that they had not been informed about the type of the chemical so that they could provide protective gear to their ambulance staff to save them during the rescue operation while shifting the affected persons to hospitals and nearby clinics.
After being given first aid, most of the affected persons were transported to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre for further treatment, sources in Edhi Foundation said.
JPMC executive director Dr Seemin Jamali said they received 70 persons, all young and middle aged, with the common complaint of difficulty in breathing and burning sensation in their eyes.
She said they were stable and 69 of them were discharged. Only one patient was admitted for further treatment. “He is also stable and has been put under observation,” Dr Jamali added.
She said there was “an element of anxiety” ostensibly in the wake of recent gas leakage at Karachi Port Trust.
The Bin Qasim SHO said the authorities would decide about the possibility of initiating any legal proceedings after an initial inquiry. He said the chemical industrial unit operations were affected for some hours.
Later, the factory resumed its operations, he said. Apparently to highlight that the factory was safe, the SHO claimed that he even performed Friday prayer on the premises of Engro chemical plant.
Taking notice of the incident, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and a team of officials led by Director General of the Sindh Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) got the company’s operations stopped.
“The operations of the company would continue to be closed till its administration gives assurances for implementation of environmental laws fully,” says a statement issued earlier.
A SEPA team available in the Bin Qasim area was probing the incident. In order to conduct personal hearing into the incident, a notice was also being issued to the Engro firm, it added.
Adviser to the CM Barrister Murtaza Wahab, who was looking into the matter, said another SEPA team had been sent to the JPMC and Aga Khan University Hospital to inquire after the condition of the affected persons.