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Highway tanker spills acid
The valve of the tanker that sprung a leak, spilling hydrochloric acid on National Highway 6 on Wednesday night. Picture by Gopal Senapati

A tanker loaded with hydrochloric acid sprang a leak in Howrah’s Alampur on Wednesday night. Police said the driver fled, parking the vehicle on National Highway 6, after detecting the leak.

Several local residents complained of suffocation and irritation after inhaling the gas. Two of the firemen trying to fix the leak had to be taken to hospital after they complained of a burning sensation in the eyes.

The police suspect that the valve of the tanker, loaded with 1,600 litres of hydrochloric acid meant for a steel plant in Dankuni, was broken after being hit by another vehicle.

The residents, warned by a pungent smell around 11am, scanned the area and found acid was leaking from the tanker.

They immediately called up the police, who, in turn, got in touch with the fire brigade. Two tenders reached the spot in an hour and the firemen sprinkled water on the valve as well as the pool of acid on the road.

The leak was finally plugged around 2.30pm with a piece of wood.

Sudipta Das, a local resident, said: “My seven-year-old son started vomiting. We immediately came out of the house and saw our neighbours standing on the road, covering their noses and eyes.”

Narendranath Dutta, the additional district magistrate (general), said: “We arranged for a driver who took the tanker to Dankuni.”

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