At least 14 people have died so far and thousands were reported sick after poisonous gas leak from the LG Polymer plant at Gopalapatnam on the outskirts of Visakhapatnam early on Thursday.
Visakhapatnam is India’s leading military port and headquaters of India’s eastern naval command.
Eyewitnesses told Easternlink the gas started leaking around 2:30 am when the workers were preparing to reopen the plant today.
Most residents around the plant were obviously asleep.
Thousands were brought into hospitals with severe breathing difficulties .
Doctors at the King George Hospital in the city said the death toll is likely to go up.
They said that banies below ten years of age were the worst affected. Visakhapatnam Police Commissioner Rajiv Kumar Meena told Easternlink that most after inhaling the gas but atleast two persons were crushed in a furious stampede caused by people fleeing in panic.
Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has directed the district officials to take every possible step to save lives and bring the situation under control.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he has spoken to the Ministry of Home Affairs and NDMA and that the situation is being monitored closely.
Areas within an approximately 3-kilometre radius of the plant were vulnerable, the municipal corporation said in a tweet.
Around 1,500 people had been evacuated, mostly from a neighbouring village, authorities said.
The scenes were reminiscent of the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster which killed thousands of people.
At least 30 tonnes of methyl isocyanate gas was released from the Union Carbide pesticide plant in the Madhya Pradesh capital in one of the worst industrial disasters of the 20th century.
The incident occurred on the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984, and affected more than 6,00,000 workers and nearby inhabitants.