New Delhi: Hours after the gas leak tragedy that claimed over 11 lives and impacted more than 1000 people, Visakhapatnam District Collector said that technical glitch in the refrigeration unit attached to the two styrene tanks at a chemical plant caused the vapour leak. Also Read - Vizag Gas Leak: Arjun Kapoor, SS Rajamouli, Bhumi Pednekar And Other Stars Extend Condolences to Families Affected

Quoting a preliminary investigation, the official said that leak at the LG Polymers Limited was so intense that only around 9.30 AM it was understood what exactly it was. Also Read - Vizag Gas Leak: Death Toll Reaches 11, Around 1000 Sick; Andhra CM Announces Rs 1 Crore Ex-gratia to Families of Deceased

“Styrene monomer is normally in a liquid state and is safe below a temperature of 20 degrees Celsius. But, because of the malfunctioning of the refrigeration unit, the chemical started gasifying,” District Collector V Vinay Chand said. Also Read - Vizag Tragedy: What is Styrene, The Chemical That Caused the Gas Leak At Visakhapatnam?

He said this based on the preliminary report which was submitted by the Factories Department. He added that the technical glitch caused the temperature in the chemical storage tank to rise above the safety level of 20 degrees, leading to gasification and consequent evaporation of styrene.

After the Vizag gas leak incident, the Central government has asked the chemical manufacturers to exercise caution when reopening their plants.

Meanwhile, a criminal case has been registered against the management of the chemical plant in Andhra Pradesh where the gas leak occurred, police said.

In the tragic incident in the wee hours of Thursday, 11 people, including children, were killed and 1000 others were affected, that raised fears of a serious industrial disaster.

Hours after the styrene gas leaked around 2.30 am from the multinational L G Polymers Plant, scores of people were seen lying unconscious on sidewalks, near ditches and on the road.

During the rescue operation, officers and police personnel rushed to take people to the hospital and revive them, but many people were seen gasping for breath as they staggered their way to safety.

The death toll from the accident could go up with at least 20 people on ventilator support. Besides, 246 people with health complications are undergoing treatment at Visakhapatnam’s King George Hospital.

Taking stock of the situation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he had spoken to officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). “I pray for everyone’s safety and well-being in Visakhapatnam,” Modi said in a tweet.

Other prominent leaders such as President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu expressed their distress and condoled the loss of lives.