Ammonia gas leak puts 20 women in hospital

Feb 11, 2014, 07:14 IST | Richa Pinto

The gas leaked from the cold storage unit of frozen fish exporters Hiravati International, Vashi, causing some women to fall unconscious; two are currently in the ICU

An ammonia gas leak occurred in a cold storage unit at Sector 18 of Vashi, Navi Mumbai, landing 20 women in the hospital, out of which two are being treated in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The incident occurred on Sunday around 8.30 pm in Hiravati International, an exporter of frozen fish.

Which also doubles up as their residential quarters. Pics/Sayed Sameer Abedi
Which also doubles up as their residential quarters. Pics/Sayed Sameer Abedi

The leakage turned lethal for women who live in the quarters located in the unit itself. Most of them work in the packaging section of the frozen food that is sold internationally. Anita Chaudhary, a 28-year-old from Assam, has been working at the packing unit for the last seven months. Recounting the incident, she said, “We are about 100 women living in the unit.

On Sunday, we headed to our quarters after finishing work at 6.30 pm. Around 8.30 pm, we came to know about the leakage in one of the pipes and could soon smell the ammonia in our quarters as well. Some women experienced nasal irritation and a few even fell unconscious.”

About 100 women work at the cold storage unit
About 100 women work at the cold storage unit

According to Assistant Police Inspector of APMC Police Station, Vivek Gavand, the acrid odour of ammonia was still strong when they reached the spot and they had to use oxygen masks to enter the unit. “The organisation has employed women workers in the packaging section as it does not require a lot of physical strength. From our initial observation, it appears that the gas leaked from the main unit of the fish cold storage,” he said.

The Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) Hospital in Vashi opened their disaster ward to accommodate the women affected by the gas leakage. According to the doctors, while the condition of most patients is now stable, they decided to admit two in ICU as they also suffer from asthma.

Dr Prashant Jawade, medical superintendent of the hospital, said, “We have admitted the women who complained of breathing problems and nasal irritation. We decided to open our disaster ward so that we could admit and treat everyone.” An official from the cold storage unit, who chose to remain anonymous, said the ammonia used to run the freezer started leaking on Sunday night, which affected the women staying in the quarters.

What are the effects of inhaling ammonia?
Ammonia is a colourless gas with a pungent odour. High level of exposure or exposure to people suffering from asthma or other breathing problems can cause symptoms like burning of eyes, nose, and throat. Long periods of exposure may lead to coughing and choking.

List of the injured women
Manisha Sail (21),
Pooja Rajvanshi (21)
Bulbuly Barinan (19)
Laukhi Togue (25)
Priti Kandkunkar (24)
Borali Rai (21)
Nisha Raut (18)
Harsha Talekar (26)
Radha Sadadye (19)
Rajkumar Rai (32)
Poonam Achari (23)
Faujiya Bashapa (22)
Laxmi Abram (28)
Sobi Das (23)
Sujata Kambale (24)
Maynu Narzari (21)
Meena Somwar (22)
Anita Chaudhary (28)
Nisha Nayar (21)
Meenakshi Barman (20)

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