As the sun began to set after a day of panic and chaos, sorrow engulfed Gopalapatnam traffic police station in Visakhapatnam. After putting up a brave effort to rescue the residents, these policemen found time to process the incident. That’s when it hit them that the gas leak incident was a personal tragedy for them. In the incident which occurred around 3 am on Thursday, that has claimed 11 lives so far, one of the victims is the son of their colleague.
Nineteen-year-old Annepu Chandramowli, a first year MBBS student from Andhra Medical College, a resident of RR Venkatapuram, was the elder son of constable Annepu Easwar Rao.
Easwar Rao’s residence is just 300 meters away from LG Polymerics Plant, from where toxic styrene gas emanated, causing nausea and asphyxiation.
Gopalapatnam traffic SI K Venkat Rao, holding his tears back says, “The death of the young boy is really unbelievable. He was a really good student, who secured good marks and got an MBBS seat. We were so happy when he got into medicine. Now to think that he is no more, fills us with immense grief.”
“This is a personal tragedy. Easwar Rao is like our family member,” he adds.
According to the SI, all four members in the family – Easwar Rao, his wife and two sons – fell unconscious in their residence, and the people who could withstand the gas shifted them to ambulances.
“All four of them were shifted to different hospitals. As Chandramowli’s health was deteriorating rapidly, he was taken to King George Hospital,” Venkat Rao recalls. However, Chandramowli was declared “brought dead” by the hospital authorities. He had died of asphyxiation.
After the health condition of the family stabilised in the evening, relatives shared the news of Chandramowli’s death.
“Easwar Rao is totally numb and devastated after hearing the tragic news,” says Murthy, Easwar Rao’s colleague. Meanwhile, Chandramowli’s body was shifted to the mortuary for post mortem.
Overwhelmed by the incident, Murthy says, “I still can’t believe that this nightmare was a reality. I am yet to comprehend the events.”
On Thursday, horrifying images came from Vizag, showing people collapsing on the streets, animals choking to death, panicked motorcycle riders unable to breath ramming into trees.
The impact of the gas leak was felt in a 3 km radius of the plant. The leak of styrene from the plant affected at least 5,000 persons, killed at least 22 cows and buffaloes; and six stray dogs.
(This story was first published on The News Minute and was republished in an arrangement.)