Radioactive Leak at Delhi Airport May Have Hit Two Cargo Loaders 

Radioactive leak at IGI Airport may have affected two cargo loaders, but government says there is no need to panic. 

2 min read
An aircraft parking bay at the Indira Gandhi International Airport,  Delhi (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Contrary to the government cautioning Delhiites not to panic after a radioactive leak was detected in the cargo area of IGI Airport this morning, two loaders are suspected to have been affected by the radiation for which they were hospitalised.

The Quint has learnt that a cargo handling executive, who did not want his identity disclosed, revealed to the authorities that the two loaders were moved to Max Hospital in Gurgaon, which is closest to IGIA, where they are undergoing treatment and are under close observation.

Sources disclosed that the leak, from a medicinal consignment that was on board an in-bound Turkish Airlines passenger flight, was detected around 9:30 am but no steps were taken to plug it till 2:30 pm when a 200 square metre area was vacated and sealed by the airport authorities. The two loaders at close proximity of the plane fell unconscious, sources said.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh confirmed at a press conference that the leak had been “plugged” and added that a team from the Department of Atomic Energy reached the spot. The government, however, chose to keep under wraps the two loaders’ condition.

Turkish Airlines issued a statement claiming that flight TK716 from Istanbul to Delhi did not carry any radioactive material.

Upon having been informed of the mentioned situation, Turkish Airlines’s relevant cargo and technical teams have effectuated the necessary controls and radiological surveys on-board the aircraft landed back to Istanbul but no evidence has been detected. The necessary information on the incident has been made to the relevant official authorities by Turkish Airlines. The cargo package containing medical material and carried by Turkish Airlines’ TK716 Istanbul - Delhi flight has been examined by the official authorities in Delhi on suspicion of radioactive leak due to the wetness seen on the mentioned package.
– Turkish Airlines’ Response

Four packets, out of a total of 10, containing a yellow-coloured liquid were suspected to have spread out of a sanitised container in the cargo bay of the airport at around 4:35 am. A special squad of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) was called in to check and contain the leak.

A medical consignment of material suspected to be of radioactive nature was reported at the Cargo terminal of Delhi Airport this morning. A team from Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD), Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are at the site and making arrangements for the removal of the material. - DIAL Spokesperson

The DIAL Spokesperson added that the leak happened in a small area of the cargo hold and was quickly isolated.

NDRF Chief O P Singh said that a 10-member special squad from its base in Dwarka has been rushed to the spot and is “sanitising” the area.

Meanwhile, Fortis HealthCare authorities maintained that they are yet to ascertain if the consignment belonged to their hospitals.

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