The Nellimukku course of the National Highway 47 in Kollam city was closed to traffic at 3.15 a.m. on Wednesday following leakage of LPG from a fully loaded bullet tanker lorry that lost control and fell on its side.

Police and personnel from the Fire and Rescue Service set up an exclusion zone in the area and evacuated people living close to the accident site. Power supply to the entire area has been switched off by the Kerala State Electricity Board as a precautionary measure. Water is being sprayed to divert the gas cloud.

The problem being faced when it comes to plugging the leak is that the valve through which the leak developed is now on the underside of the fallen tanker. The lorry lost control while negotiating a sharp curve on the highway. The similar accident had taken place a couple of years ago at the same site and since then bullet tanker lorries had been maintaining speed control while passing through the area. Experts from the IOC are rushing to the site.

Meanwhile by 8.30 a.m. the Controller of Explosives, R. Venugopal, gave directions to the expert team on the site not to touch the tanker lorry till the arrival of the emergency rescue vehicle from the Coimbatore unit of the Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited. Mr. Venugopal has also directed the high capacity Volvo fire tender from the Kochi unit of the Indian Oil Coproration to reach the site of the accident at the earliest.

Talking to The Hindu from Sabarimala, Mr. Venugopal said that the leak of LPG has occurred because the roto gauge of the tank got damaged in the accident. The leaking portion in partly buried under the sand hence the leak for the time being is not severe. But if the tanker is lifted it may become severe. Mr. Venugopal expects to reach the site by 3 p.m. and personally supervise the leak plugging operations. He has also directed technical personnel from the Kerala Metals and Minerals Limited and the IOC to reach the site.

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