How the sludge turns fatal

Updated - April 02, 2016 01:24 am IST

Published - February 01, 2015 08:26 am IST - VELLORE

“I heard a big explosion around 1 a.m. When I came out, I was shocked to find the sludge gushing forth like a tsunami, breaking the tannery wall and drowning the 10 workers who were sleeping,” says K. Ravi, supervisor at the tannery.

He had come for night duty at the R.K. Tannery located adjacent to the Common Effluent Treatment Plant where a mixture of chemicals, including sulphuric acid, ammonia, sodium chloride and few others, were being treated.

“They were all sleeping in the watchman’s room when they drowned. Suddenly, the sludge entered inside the tannery,” says Ravi, recalling the horror night. He went up to the terrace and saved himself.

Aminul Ali Khan, the other survivor, was caught in the sludge but was rescued by the Fire and Rescue Services personnel using a rope and an extension ladder.

Over 35 fire service personnel were engaged in saving the workers and retrieving the bodies, said Meenakshi, Deputy Director of Fire and Rescue Services, Vellore. 

“We had to use rubber gloves, face masks and gum boots in view of the thickness of the sludge and the toxic fumes from the sludge,” she said.

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