Chittagong, August 23: Hundreds of people fell sick after leakage in an ammonia gas pipeline at a fertilizer factory on the bank of river Karnaphuli at Rangadia under Anwara upazila in Chittagong on Monday night. The incident happened at about 10:30pm.
Many people at Patenga, Bandar Halisahar and Agrabad areas in the port city fell sick with respiratory illness after inhaling the gas that spread from the leakage at Di-Ammonium Phosphate (DAP) fertilizer plant, Fire Service and Civil Defence Deputy Assistant Director (DAD) Jasim Uddin said.
No fatalities have been reported from the state-owned plant located in Chittagong Urea Fertilizer Limited (CUFL) premise in Rangadia neighborhood of Anwara upazila.
Leakage from a reserve container on the south bank of Karnaphuli river started around 10.30 p.m. on Monday. The container had stored 500 tons of Ammonium Phosphate, said the official.
Within an hour gas spread over the northern bank of the river and a vast area of the city. In absence of any public announcement from the city authorities, panic gripped the city.
Citizens from Patenga, sea port area to Agrabad and Halishahar residential area took social media to express their shock and confusion. They have posted messages describing heavily smelly air, severe irritation of the nose and throat, and respiratory discomfort.
At least 57 people including five children were taken to Chittagong Medical College Hospital, sources confirmed. Sources in the area said, some 17 on-duty staffs of the factory and a number of people of neighboring areas fell sick due to suffocation immediately after the leakage.
Some 15 people at the Chittagong Shah Amanat International Airport area also fell sick. Five of them were taken to Chittagong Medical College Hospital (CMCH) while others were given first aid, said Jashim. “Fire fighters are working to stop the leakage,” he said.
Thirty-five people, who fell sick after inhaling the gas, were admitted to the CMCH till 1:10am (Tuesday) while the number was increasing, said Sub-Inspector Zahirul Islam of police outpost at the hospital.
Amal Barua, Managing Director of Di-Ammonium Phosphate Fertilizer Company Limited, said people fell sick as ammonia gas was spread with air following a leakage in the gas pipeline at DAP-1 factory at night. “We are trying our best to repair the leakage in the pipeline. There is nothing to be panicked. The leakage is not so serious,” he said.
Meanwhile, receiving information, at least 12 vehicles of Fire Service from different units in the port city rushed to the spot, said officials at Agrabad Fire Service control room.
The Di-Ammonium Phosphate Fertilizer Company Limited is owned by state-run Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation (BCIC) and has a production capacity of 800 metric tonnes of DAP fertilizer per day.