At least 15 people were killed and 26 others fell sick today when liquid ammonia leaked at a refrigeration unit in the Chinese commercial hub of Shanghai.
The accident occurred at Shanghai Weng's Cold Storage Industrial Company in Baoshan District, the municipal government announced in a posting via its official account on Sina Weibo, the Chinese Twitter.
Many workers ran out for safety after the leak was detected in the factory. Some did not have time to rush out and collapsed within the premises, state-run CCTV reported.
The leak killed 15 people and sickened 26, with five in critical condition, an official statement said.
Following the leak, a pungent odor was detected in the air, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
A chief firefighter said there were no open flames after the leak, so the team carried out rescue work immediately and closed down valves that are suspected of having leaked the chemical.
"It smelled much worse than smoke from a fire. I sprawled on the ground and could not speak. Then my consciousness dwindled," Gu Qijue, who was injured in the incident, said.
Gu said she was in a dormitory area on the factory's fourth floor when she smelled a strong odor. She was rescued by firefighters and saved after medical treatment.
Initial test results show that odors reported early in the morning by nearby residents were unrelated to the leak, and no pollution was detected outsides, the statement said.
The liquid ammonia was used in food refrigeration units at the Company, which is engaged in import, export, storage, processing and sale of seafood.