On a day when 11 people had died and over 350 were admitted to various hospitals across the city, panic struck Visakhapatnam post-midnight, when social media was flooded with messages of the police reportedly asking residents within 5 km radius of the chemical plant LG Polymers to evacuate due to another gas leak.
People from areas such as Marripalem, Madhavadhara, NAD Kotha Road and even Murali Nagar were seen rushing out of their houses in cars, two-wheelers as well as on foot.
This commotion took place despite top officials like GVMC Commissioner G. Srijana, DCP Uday Bhaskar and MLC PVN Madhav responding to calls after 1 a.m., urging people to stay at home.
The incident took place when authorities were evacuating people from within 1 km radius as a precaution, since some amount of styrene vapour was still present in the area.
However, on social media, rumours stating that the factory would explode and that there was another leak sprouted.
This led people 4 to 5 km away from the plant to move out of their houses, causing traffic snarls on the National Highway at 1 a.m.
In a message to The Hindu Ms. Srijana said that some vapour did come out a few hours ago, but everything was stable at the plant and there was no reason to panic.
DCP Uday Bhaskar, who was present on ground also confirmed that everything was normal and there was no reason to panic.
As a measure, police vehicles began making announcements from 2.30 a.m. onwards, advising residents to not panic.