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From Bhopal Gas Tragedy to Bombay Docks Blast: Revisiting Major Industrial Disasters in India

Gas leak in LG Polymers plant in Vizag. (Image: Twitter)

Gas leak in LG Polymers plant in Vizag. (Image: Twitter)

A major gas chemical leak at LG Polymers Ltd in Visakhapatnam left 11 dead and more than 5,000 hospitalised.

A tragic chemical gas leak incident left at least 11 dead and more than 5,000 sick in Visakhapatnam district in Andhra Pradesh. The incident happened at around 3 am at LG Polymers Ltd at Gopalapatnam - a major commercial and residential neighbourhood in Visakhapatnam – when residents of the nearby colonies were asleep.

This is not the first such gas leak disaster in India. Here is a list of the major industrial disasters in India in the last 80 years.

Bombay Docks Explosion (1944)

On April 14, 1944, the freighter SS Fort Stikine, carrying a mixed cargo of cotton bales, gold and ammunition including tons of explosives, caught fire and resulted in two massive blasts in the Victoria Dock of Bombay. Ships in the area of the explosion sank after the impact. 800 people died in the explosion and some 80,000 were made homeless.

Chasnala Mining Disaster (1975)

On December 27, 1975, a huge explosion rocked the Chasnala Colliery in Dhanbad (then under Bihar) killing 372 miners. The explosion is supposed to have caused by sparks from equipment igniting a pocket of flammable methane gas. The flooding in the mine drowned the miners trapped under the debris.

The Union Carbide Gas Tragedy (1984)

In what is the biggest industrial disaster of the last hundred years in India, 5295 people died and 5,27,894 were affected after being exposed to some 40 tonne of methyl isocyanate gas leaked from a pesticide plant owned by the US multinational, Union Carbide Corp, in Bhopal. It has been more than 35 years since the incident which happened on December 3, 1984, but there is still a massive debate on the number of people affected. Some activists estimate around 20,000 to 25,000 deaths.

Korba Chimney Collapse (2009)

On the September 23, 2009, 45 people lost their lives when a chimney under construction at a power plant at the Bharat Aluminium Company (Balco) collapsed in Korba in Chhattisgarh. The structure had reached a height of 240 metres when it collapsed on top of more than 100 workers due to incessant rainfall and lightning in the area.

Jaipur Oil Depot Fire (2009)

On October 29, 2009, an oil fire broke out at the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) depot’s giant tank in the Sitapura Industrial Area on the outskirts of Jaipur, killing 12 people and injuring at least 130. The blaze continued for more than a week and half a million people were evacuated from the area post the incident.

Mayapuri Radiolgical Accident (2010)

A big radiation scare hit the national capital ten years ago when one person was killed and 8 others hospitalised at AIIMS after exposure to radioactive substances at the Mayapuri scrap yard in West Delhi. The event was rated level 4 out of 7 on the International Nuclear Events Scale.

Visakhapatnam HPCL Refinery Blast (2013)

23 people were killed on August 23, 2013, when a blast caused due to sparks originating from welding after a heavy build-up of hydrocarbons in a pipeline, led to the collapse of the cooling tower in the HPCL refinery in Visakhapatnam.

Nagaram GAIL pipeline explosion (2014)

18 people were killed and around 40 injured when in June 2014, a massive fire broke out after a blast in the Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) underground gas pipeline in the coastal village of Nagaram in the East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh.

Bhilai Steel Plant Gas Leak (2014)

Six people were killed and over 40 injured due to a leakage in methane gas pipeline at a water pump house in the Bhilai Steel Plant in Durg district in Chattisgarh.

Tughlakabad Gas Leak (2017)

As many as 200 school students of the Rani Jhansi School for Girls were admitted to four hospitals after a chemical gas leakage from a container truck at the customs area of Tughlakabad depot in South Delhi.

Kanpur Ammonia Gas Leak (2017)

On the March 15, 2017, Ammonia leaked from the gas chamber of a cold storage facility at Shivrajpur in Kanpur district of Uttar Pradesh. Many farmers were trapped inside the building, waiting to stock the potato harvest, when the tragedy occurred. Five people were killed and nine others injured in the incident.

Belur Chlorine Gas Leak (2017)

More than 10 people took ill and were rushed to the hospital following a chlorine gas leak at a water treatment plant at Gandehalli in Belur near Hassan in South Karnataka in May 2017.

Bhilai Steel Plant Pipeline Blast (2018)

An explosion in a gas pipeline connected to the coke oven section of the Steel Plant in Bhilai in Durg district of Chhatisgarh, operated by the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) resulted in the death of 9 people while injuring 14 others.