A poisonous gas leak at a steel factory owned by a Brazilian company killed six workers at Tadipatri in Andhra Pradesh’s Anantapur district on Thursday evening, The Hindustan Times reports.
The gas leak was detected at 5.30 pm at the Gerdau Steel India Ltd factory on the outskirts of the town, police said. The plant’s owner Gerdau SA is based in Sao Paolo and is one of the largest steel manufacturers in the Americas.
“Some poisonous gas seems to have leaked from the plant accidentally, choking the workers who were close to the furnace. The exact nature of the gas and the reasons for the leakage are yet to be ascertained. We are now focussing on shifting the dead to the hospital for post-mortem,” sub-inspector Ramakrishna Reddy said.
The workers who died were identified as B Ranganath (21), K Manoj Kumar (24), U Gangadhar (37), S A Wasim Basha (39), K Shiva Maddileti alias Lingaiah (26) and Guruvaiah (40).
Five others suffered serious health complications and were admitted to a local hospital. Two of them are said to be in a critical condition. “The plant was closed immediately and an emergency squad was pressed into service to stem the leakage,” the officer said.
Later, district superintendent of police G Ashok Kumar told news agency PTI over phone that the mishap occurred while testing was being done after maintenance work in the unit.
“As per preliminary information, two workers died on the spot and four others in hospital.Carbon monoxide is the main gas used for reheating process and its leak caused the mishap,” the official said.
The company, in a statement, said, “Gerdau sadly informs that an accident occurred at its Tadipatri steel plant, in India, this evening, resulting in six casualties. Gerdau immediately provided medical assistance and the workers were sent to the local hospital.”
“The company is assisting the family of the victims and is working to determine the cause of the accident. The company is also extending all cooperation to local authorities. Operations at the unit have been suspended and will resume only after an extensive safety inspection,” it added.
The Tadpatri plant is Gerdau’s first factory in Asia. In 2007, Gerdau formed a joint venture with Kalyani Steels Ltd to buy the plant from SJK Steel Plant Ltd. The Brazilian company later bought out its Indian partner and took complete ownership of the factory
It has an installed capacity of 300,000 tonnes of special steels, mainly focused on the automotive market