Around 475 girl students were hospitalised today after they complained of irritation in eyes due to chemical leakage from a container depot near two schools in southeast Delhi's Tughlakabad area.
The students of Rani Jhansi School and Government Girls Senior Secondary School, run by the city administration, were rushed to nearby hospitals as they complained of irritation in eyes and breathlessness.
The Delhi government has ordered a magisterial probe into the incident. Police has registered an FIR in the matter under various sections of IPC and the Environment (Protection) Act.
Union Minister JP Nadda has instructed all Centre-run hospitals to be ready to help the victims. A team of doctors from AIIMS has been put on stand-by to cater to any emergency.
A senior doctor at Batra hospital, where 55 children in the age group of 10-14 years were admitted, said their condition was stable.
According to the police, a call was received at 7:30 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.
"Some chemical leakage at customs area of Tughlaqabad depot has caused eye irritation to the girl students in Rani Jhansi school," DCP(Southeast) Romil Baaniya said.
According to police, over 470 students have received treatment in hospitals. As many as 107 students were admitted in Majithia Hospital and 62 in Batra Hospital.
Some children had mild breathing difficulty, eye irritation and mild headache, the doctor at Batra Hospital said, adding that two children who had come with complaints of breathing difficulty were admitted in the paediatric ICU.
"The condition of all the children, including those admitted in the ICU, is stable. They are currently under observation and they are likely to be discharged in three to four hours," said the doctor.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said that he has ordered the area district magistrate and SDM to launch a probe into the incident.
"There was an exam in the school which we have cancelled following the incident," he said.
Sisodia, who also holds education portfolio, said that he spoke to doctors who told him that all the students were doing fine and were under observation.
CM Kejriwal assures strict action
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has assured strict action against those found guilty in the matter.
"The Delhi government has asked the district magistrate to investigate the matter and find out how the gas leaked at the depot. We have asked the DM to take strict action against those found guilty of negligence," Kejriwal told reporters after meeting the students at one of the hospitals.
Lt Governor Anil Baijal and Opposition Leader in Delhi Assembly Vijender Gupta visited the victims at ESI Hospital and enquired about their condition.
Hitting out at the Delhi government, Gupta sought a high-level probe into the incident.
“It is negligence on the part of school authorities. At the time of opening the school there were signs of gas leakage. Why didn't the school authorities stop the students from entering the school?” Gupta tweeted.
The chairperson of the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW), Swati Maliwal, met the children admitted in the Batra hospital and demanded shifting of the container depot.
"Very sad. It is a man-made disaster as no need for container depot to be in centre of Delhi. Should be immediately shifted, accountability fixed for gas leak," she tweeted.
Apollo hospital authorities said that the condition of 42 children and an adult admitted there was stable.
"Therapeutic interventions as per clinical requirements were administered to them. Currently, all patients are in a stable condition," the hospital said in a statement.