KUWAIT CITY, April 1: Several workers from India, Pakistan and Nepal aged between 24 and 38 years were exposed to caustic chlorine gas cylinder fumes on Thursday and Friday in Sharjah Industrial Area and referred to various hospitals, reports Gulf News. Police sources said authorities are looking for a man who sold chlorine gas cylinders to a scrap factory located at Sharjah Industrial Area No. 4 where a gas leakage occurred after midnight on Thursday and caused breathing difficulties to 88 people. Many of the workers who complained of uneasiness were staying in nearby accommodations, report added.
A total of 162 workers were affected by the incident and 74 of them were treated on site, while 88 were referred to Kuwait Hospital, Al-Qasimi Hospital, and Khalifa Hospital in Ajman. Report indicated all the workers were discharged from the hospital except five who were admitted to Kuwait Hospital, including a Pakistani worker (28 years old) who suffered a heart condition and was referred to the ICU. He was later moved from the ICU to the medical ward Saturday afternoon when his condition improved.
Head of Emergency Department at Kuwait Hospital Dr Eisa Al-Moa’almi told Gulf news the hospital received 26 workers after the incident and five of them were admitted. He noted the hospital started receiving patients after midnight on Thursday until 7:30 am on Friday, and workers who came to the hospital Friday morning said they woke up from sleep suffering from breathing difficulties. Al-Qasimi Hospital received 31 workers who were all treated and discharged, while Khalifa Hospital in Ajman received, treated and discharged 31 patients.
Meanwhile, Sharjah police and environment authorities disposed of the gas cylinders as a precaution to prevent any further gas leakage believed to have been caused by illegal cutting of gas cylinders sold as scrap. Colonel Sami Khamis Al-Naqbi, Director General of Sharjah Civil Defense said initial investigations indicated the leakage was due to illegal cutting of gas cylinders stored in an inappropriate place.
The municipality with the Ministry of Environment and Water is investigating the issue to determine damage caused to the environment as a result of the gas leak. Authorities are said to have found 22 gas cylinders at the site but only one of them contained chlorine gas. All cylinders have since been destroyed as a precaution.