A pipe at Sichuan the Nanbu Chuanlong Chemical fertiliser plant sprung a leak last night, exposing 10,000 people to toxic ammonia liquid. A government order to evacuate all the residents of Dingshui district in Nanchong city followed at 22:30.
Some people who were very close to the plant at the time passed out from inhaling the ammonia fumes, South China Morning Post reports. Those who could made their way out of the city either on foot, by motorcycle or car, leading to huge traffic jams on the roads. At least one middle-aged man made it to a hospital after he’d passed.
The disaster comes after residents complained that the plant should not have been built in such a densely populated area. Sichuan Nanbu Chuanlong Chemical Co. Ltd. was established in 2004 and its main products include synthetic ammonia, chemical fertilisers, and nitrogenous fertiliser.
Firemen on scene recalled seeing white gases spewing out of the pipe and the leakage was not stopped until today. Ammonia has an extremely pungent smell and exposure to high quantities can result in swelling of the throat, along with chemical burns to the lungs, and in severe cases, death.
Local authorities said they had informed residents to evacuate the area immediately after the leak was discovered. They have also launched an investigation into the accident.
by Dan Cunningham