Experts were still trying to neutralise styrene gas at LG Polymers' Vizag plant on Friday, a day after gas leaked from the plant left 12 people dead and scores of others ill, officials said.
Chief Secretary Neelam Sawhney, who is camping in the coastal city to monitor the operations, exuded confidence that the operation to neutralise the remaining gas at the plant would be completed in 48 hours, news agency PTI reported.
The top bureaucrat, who held a review meeting at the office of the District Collector, was told that the temperature in the storage tank was very high at present.
The spraying of water on the tank was continuing while experts from the National Disaster Response Force and other agencies were trying to neutralise the gas using PTBC, the antidote chemical especially brought from Gujarat by a cargo flight.
The chief secretary said the gas leak resulted in 12 deaths, while 454 other people had to be admitted to various hospitals. She said 10,000 people from five villages had bene evacuated. She urged them to remain in relief camps until further advisory.
The official said there was gas leak on Thursday night but the rescue workers acted swiftly to bring the situation under control.
Officials were monitoring the level of styrene in the air around the factory, she said, assuring that there would be no long-term impact of the gas on the environment.
Earlier, the state's industries minister M Goutam Reddy had visited the plant and said there was no need to panic as experts were doing their best to neutralise the gas in the tank. He said stern action would be taken against those found guilty for the accident after submission of an inquiry report.
Meanwhile, the government on Friday released Rs 30 crore towards extending financial assistance to the bereaved families and those taken ill. Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, during his visit to Visakhapatnam on Thursday, had announced Rs 1 crore each for the families of the deceased.
According to the government order, people who got primary medical aid will be paid Rs 25,000 each, and Rs 1 lakh each will be given out to those hospitalised for 2 or 3 days, Rs 10 lakh each to those on ventilator support, and Rs 10,000 each for all in the affected villages.
In the meantime, Reddy on Friday said the Pollution Control Board (PCB) should be strengthened and directed the officials to identify hazardous factories in densely populated areas in and around Visakhapatnam. During a review meeting held through video conference, he asked officials to prepare a comprehensive road map to ensure a safe city free of hazardous industries, which should be located away from habitations.
The chief minister instructed PCB officials to play a proactive role in preventing industrial accidents. He asked for a fair and transparent investigation into the gas leak incident and a comprehensive report on the same.