Around 450 girl students were hospitalised on Saturday after toxic fumes spread due to chemical leakage at a container depot near two schools in southeast Delhi's Tughlaqabad area.
Most of the students were discharged after a few hours, while four of them were kept under observation in the ICU of two hospitals.
The students of Rani Jhansi School and Government Girls Senior Secondary School, run by the city administration, were rushed to nearby hospitals as they complained of irritation in eyes and breathlessness on Saturday morning.
According to the police, a call was received at 7:35 am about some chemical leakage at customs area of Tughlaqabad depot, which is located near the schools.
The chemical in the container was imported from China and was to be taken to Sonepat in Haryana, it said.
The affected students were taken to four hospitals -- Hamdard Institute Of Medical Sciences and Research, Apollo, Batra and ESIC -- after the leakage was reported around 7.20 am at the customs area of Tughlaqabad depot, which is located near the schools.
"They came with complaints of irritation in eyes, breathlessness and pain in abdomen. All of them were admitted and put on conservative treatment," said officials of Hamdard Institute Of Medical Sciences and Research, where around 250 children, aged between 9 and 15, were admitted.
"While majority of them have been discharged, two are admitted in the ICU. They are stable," said Dr Ajaz Mustafa, medical superintendent of the institute.
103 girls and three adults were rushed to Okhla-located ESIC hospital and were discharged.
However, two children are still hospitalised in ESIC and are recuperating in the ICU, the doctors treating them said.
Apollo hospital authorities said the condition of 42 children and an adult who are admitted there is stable.
"Therapeutic interventions as per clinical requirements was administered on them. Currently, all patients are in a stable condition," Apollo said in a statement.
As soon as the children came, the disaster plan in the hospital was activated immediately and a temporary special disaster ward was created in the waiting area, Apollo hospital officials said.
"The patients were managed appropriately according to their clinical condition and kept under observation, till required," they added.
Around 55 children aged between 10-14 were admitted to Batra hospital in Tughlakabad Institutional area at 8.20 am. Two children, who had come with complaints of breathing difficulty, were admitted in its paediatric ICU.
"The condition of all the children, including the two who are admitted in the ICU, is stable. They are currently under observation and are likely to be discharged in three to four hours," said a senior doctor of the hospital.
One child was also referred to Safdarjung hospital.
As the news broke, Union Health Minister J P Nadda instructed all Centre-run hospitals to be ready to help the victims. A team of doctors from AIIMS has been put on stand-by to cater to any emergency.
The Delhi government ordered a magisterial probe into the incident. Police has registered an FIR in the matter under various sections of IPC and the Environment (Protection) Act.
"There was an exam in the school which we have cancelled following the incident," Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia said.
Following the incident, teams of police and National Disaster Response Force as well as CATS ambulance reached the spot.
"Some chemical leakage at customs area of Tughlaqabad depot has caused eye irritation to the girl students in Rani Jhansi school," Deputy Commissioner of Police-Southeast Romil Baaniya said.
Lt Governor Anil Baijal and Opposition Leader in Delhi Assembly Vijender Gupta visited the victims at ESI Hospital and enquired about their condition.
Hitting out at the Delhi government, Gupta sought a high-level probe into the incident.
Gupta said it is "negligence" on the part of school authorities. "At the time of opening the school there were signs of gas leakage. Why didn't the school authorities stop the students from entering the school?," he tweeted.
The chairperson of the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW), Swati Maliwal, met the children admitted in the Batra hospital and demanded shifting of the container depot.
"V sad. It is a man made disaster as no need for Container Depot to be in centre of Delhi. Shud b imm shifted, accountability fixed for gas leak (sic)," she tweeted.