Over 50 suffer ammonia poisoning after a train derails in Serbia

WION Web Team
BelgradeUpdated: Dec 26, 2022, 11:56 AM IST
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The fumes can be seen in the night sky while ambulances are rushed to the spot  Photograph:(WION Web Team)

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After the leak, an emergency was called in the affected part of the city with a population of 60,000

A train derailment in southeastern Serbia has caused an ammonia leak, poisoning 51 people. The accident took place in the city of Pirot on Sunday. 

According to city Mayor Vladan Vasic, out of the 51 people poisoned, seven have been admitted to the hospital. "Seven people were taken to (hospital) in Nis," said Vasic. 

After the leak, an emergency was called in the affected part of the city with a population of 60,000. The residents have been urged to remain inside their homes. 

The derailment in the cold, dark conditions coupled with the limited visibility caused by the leak led to several cars crashing into each other on the highway. 

The authorities informed the main international highway has been closed which leads to Bulgaria. It was packed due to commuters out for the Christmas holidays. 

Consequently, the police were forced to divert the highway traffic through the city's local roads, causing a nuisance to the locals who were already on the edge. 

The cause of the leak is not yet known. The investigation party has been dispatched to probe the case. 

Ammonia leaks are extremely hazardous. Those inhaling the fumes are at serious health risk as it can turn fatal in several cases if medical help is not provided in due time. 

Ammonia, upon contact with moisture present in the skin, eyes, oral cavity, and respiratory tract forms ammonium hydroxide. The cell membrane lipids are immediately damaged which triggers cellular destruction. 

In 2020, two persons died while several were injured when a major ammonia gas leakage took place in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India. The Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative Limited (IFFCO) unit at Prayagraj was the ground zero for the leakage 

(With inputs from agencies)