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24 workers fall ill after inhaling toxic gases

Raktima Bose

KOLKATA: Twenty-four workers fell ill after inhaling a heavy concentration of toxic gases inside the Durgapur Steel Plant at Durgapur in Bardhaman district on Thursday.

The incident happened within a day of 118 persons falling ill after inhaling chlorine gas that leaked from a cylinder at the Mumbai Port Trust godown on Wednesday.

According to sources at the steel plant, the workers suddenly developed breathing trouble and became nauseous while working near blast furnace number 2 around 11 a.m.

“The workers were rushed to the plant's medical unit where 10 of them were discharged after being administered first-aid, but the remaining 14 were admitted to the Durgapur Steel Plant Hospital,” B.R. Kanungo, deputy general manager (communication) of the plant, told TheHindu.

While 10 of the 14 workers were discharged within a few hours following primary treatment, four had to be admitted to the intensive care unit as their condition turned critical. Mr. Kanungo, however, said their condition was “stable” and that they have been kept under observation in isolation.

Asked about the reason behind the incident, he said that while 50 per cent of the gas used in blast furnaces comprised carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and hydrogen, the level of carbon monoxide might have suddenly shot above the permissible limit.

“We have already initiated an inquiry to ascertain what led to the sudden increase of concentration of toxic gases, as well as which were the gases whose concentration shot up.

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