Seven officials of a seafood processing plant in Odisha’s Balasore district were arrested on Thursday, a day after at least 88 people were hospitalised as they fell ill due to a leak of toxic fumes at the factory, PTI reported. The state government has ordered an inquiry into the leak at the facility, which is located in the Khantapada area of Balasore district.
The general manager, two supervisors, a production manager, human resources manager, safety manager, and the shift in-charge of the factory were arrested, the police said, according to Odisha TV. The factory has now been sealed.
The incident occurred around 9 pm on Wednesday as the factory workers complained of uneasiness, suffocation, and breathing problems.
Balasore Superintendent of Police B Jugal said that the officials were detained for interrogation before being arrested. A case was registered at the Khantapada police station, and a special forensic team was asked to assist in the inquiry, Director General of Police BK Sharma said.
Odisha Labour Minister Susanta Singh, who visited those affected in the incident, said the labour commissioner will also ascertain whether children were engaged in the factory. “Stern action will be taken against those responsible for the accident,” the minister said, according to PTI.
Balasore District Collector K Sudarsan Chakrabarthy visited the factory and the hospital along with the superintendent of police, and said that the condition of the patients was stable. He added that many of them had been discharged. The district collector said that it appeared they had fallen ill after inhaling chlorine gas but more details will emerge following the inquiry.
The company’s chairman Tara Patnaik claimed there was no gas leak inside the facility, adding that the incident occurred due to bleaching material stored in the factory.