Twelve officials of a plastics plant in India, including its South Korean chief executive officer, have been arrested over a gas leak in May that killed 15 people, police said on Wednesday.
Senior police official Anand Reddy said that the officials of the LG Polymers plant have been charged with negligence leading to deaths.
“There are three South Korean nationals among those arrested,’’ Reddy said.
Toxic styrene gas escaped from the LG Polymers factory on the outskirts of Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh state on May 7.
No fewer than 500 people from surrounding villages were injured and 15 died after inhaling the noxious fumes.
The plant is owned by South Korea’s LG Chem Limited and produced polystyrene and plastics.
However, there was no immediate response from the company on the arrests. In May LG Chem had said it was carrying out its own investigation into the accident.
The police have informed the South Korean embassy in New Delhi about the arrests.
“While the offence is non-bailable, the arrested men can apply for bail under special provisions,’’ Reddy said.
“If found guilty the men face a maximum punishment of seven to 10 years in jail.”
The leak at the LG Polymers plant took place as it prepared to reopen after over 40-day nationwide lockdown due to the new coronavirus.
Investigations showed the gas leaked from a silo containing the chemical compound called styrene.
Styrene fumes can affect the lungs and nervous system causing breathlessness, nausea, fatigue and dizziness.
Long exposure can result in irregular heartbeats and coma.