New Delhi: Around 475 girls at two schools in South Delhi’s Tughlakabad area were hospitalised on Saturday after toxic fumes spread due to chemical leakage at a container in the area. The leakage from a container filled with chloromethyl pyridine, a chemical used to produce insecticides and pesticides, parked near their schools led to the incident.
Preliminary investigations revealed that pesticides from the container fell on the nearby road. “The pesticides turned into poisonous fumes after it came into contact with the sunlight,” a local police officer told this newspaper.
The students and nine teachers of Rani Jhansi Sarvodaya Kanya Vid-alaya and Government Girls Senior Secondary School were immediately rushed to the nearby hospitals — ESI Okhala, Batra, Apollo, Majethia and AIIMS.
As many as 406 students and teachers were discharged and the remaining are still undergoing treatment at various hospitals. The condition of those undergoing treatment is said to be stable.
According to the police, a call was received at 7.35 am about some chemical leakage at customs area of Tughlaqabad depot, which is located near the schools. The chemical in the container was imported from China and was to be taken to Sonepat in Haryana, it said.
Following the incident, teams of police and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) as well as CATS ambulance reached the spot. The Delhi government has also issued a showcause notice to the authorities of Tughlaqabad depot. An NDRF official said there were 80 drums in the container and the chemical leaked from three-four of them.
A girl from Class 9 of the Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Pinki, said that several of her schoolmates reported watering eyes and irritation in their throats and were sent back home. “But a few minutes later, an ambulance reached our home and took us to the hospital.”
Another student Suniti, a student of Class 8 in Rani Jhansi School said, “I felt dizziness and irritation in my eyes. First, I washed my face, but there was no relief. Three of my friends even fainted and our teachers rushed them to the hospital. I was also taken to the hospital and discharged after two hours.”
Deputy chief fire office Rajesh Pawar said, “A chemical leakage at the customs area of Tughlaqabad depot caused irritation in eyes of the students studying in Rani Jhansi School, Tughlaqabad. The local police, NDRF, fire, and Centralised Ambulance and Trauma Services teams reached the spot. The students were shifted to nearby hospitals and are reported to be normal.”
The principal of Rani Jhansi School, Manisha Vaish, said that the children had complained of suffocation and irritation in the eyes while they were praying.
“At around 7 am, during prayer time, the children complained of suffocation and irritation in the eyes. Without any delay, we got the children out from their classes and called the police to investigate. We later sent the children home and those who complained of breathing problem were admitted to three nearby hospitals. The teachers are currently with the students at the hospital,” the principal said.
An FIR under relevant sections of the IPC and environment protection act has been filed against unknown persons.