Five ill after ammonia leaks again at Ghaziabad meat factory - India

GHAZIABAD: Five women workers fell unconscious in a Ghaziabad meat exporting unit on Tuesday after inhaling what was suspected to be ammonia gas, the second such incident on its premises since November 2014.

The women—all below 20 years of age—were rushed to a nearby hospital where their condition was declared stable by evening. The management of the meat exporting unit, Frigorifico Allana, claimed it was conducting a safety drill and said opening an ammonia valve was necessary to convince workers that a leak had indeed taken place.

But police rubbished these claims, saying it was an accident due to negligence and that they would legally pursue the factory management. Officials also pointed out why medical teams weren't kept on standby and the administration not informed if it indeed was a drill.

According to general manager Ayaz Siddiqui, apart from him, only two others —the HR manager and the safety manager—were aware of the drill. "The authorities had been pressuring us to upgrade our safety system. At 11.50am on Tuesday, we asked all workers in a particular section to rush out as there was a gas leak," Siddiqui told TOI, adding, "We opened an ammonia valve as workers wouldn't have run out if they knew it was a drill. Of the 70 workers, five complained of uneasiness and were taken to the hospital in vehicles on standby."

The "drill", according to factory officials, took place in the packing section. Around 27 women had fallen ill after a gas leak here last year.

Ghaziabad ASP Vipin Tada said an FIR will be filed against the management. Police launched an inquiry. Senior district administration and fire department officials also conducted inspections.