Five tannery workers engaged in cleaning a tank containing untreated effluents in a tannery in Kuchery Road in Vaniyambadi were asphyxiated on Friday evening.

According to the police, Sooriyamoorthy (55) of Solur descended into the 10 feet x 10 feet tank containing effluents up to a depth of five feet to clean a block which prevented the effluents from flowing to the common effluent treatment plant, to which the tannery was connected. Unable to bear the toxic gas emanating from the tank, he was asphyxiated. On seeing this, Senrayan (37) followed him but met the same fate. Ezhumalai (35) and Ramu (32) of K.V. Pattarai and Saravanan (32) of Madhanacheri, too were asphyxiated when they got into the tank.

Other tannery workers and their family members, numbering about 200 blocked the Chennai-Calicut Highway in Vaniyabadi demanding adequate compensation for the family members of the deceased and steps to prevent such accidents.

District Revenue Officer A. Saravanavelraj and Tirupattur Sub-Collector K. Nandakumar rushed to the spot and held talks with the agitators.