Residents around Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals and Baikampady Industrial Estate complained of a nauseating smell.

The district administration went into a tizzy after residents of large swathes of areas around Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited (MRPL) and Baikampady Industrial Estate complained of a nauseating smell Friday afternoon.

Complaints of a “gas leak” were received from places as far as Surathkal, Jokatte and Kuloor. There were also complaints from areas such as Bondel, Balmatta, Bejai and Nantoor. The reports were between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. However, though having detected some sort of gas leakage, officials have yet to trace the source of the foul odour.

Dinesh Shetty, a resident of Athrebail which lies on the bank of the Phalguni (popularly called Gurupura river) that is opposite the Baikampady Industrial Estate, said the intense smell started around 12.30 p.m., and lasted till around 4 p.m. “It smelled of gas, pollution and even dead animals. Many had nausea in our village. A few still complain of headaches,” he said, adding that panic spread with some assuming that a poisonous gas leak was taking place.

Dayanand Shetty, Councillor from Panjimogaru ward, said the smell was of liquefied petroleum gas. “The smell was intense. This made few households in our area to check their domestic gas cylinders. Vehicle owners went to check their LPG fitted kits.” Mr. Shetty said some schools in Akashbhavan sent students home.

Deputy Commissioner N. Prakash said following the complaints, teams of officials from MRPL, Fire, Mangalore City Corporation, Factories and Boilers and Pollution Control Department were sent to different areas. “I also went around some places. I could smell of LPG when I was in Balmatta around 3 p.m.,” Mr. Prakash said. Teams went around places from where complaints were reported. Teams also visited industrial units in city, including those of MRPL and HPCL.

As per the report submitted by the teams, the leak was suspected to be from a vehicle transporting a chemical on the highway. “This smell has remained between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. and no later,” Mr. Prakash said. Specialised equipment were used by the teams visiting the industrial units that ruled out gas leakage. Mr. Prakash said the Pollution Control Board was examining samples of the gas collected in a few areas where complaints were reported. “Based on their report, I will issue instructions to chemical transporters,” he said.