ISLAMABAD, April 8: A gas leakage at a nuclear facility in Khushab on Tuesday left two workers dead before the situation was brought under control.

An unsigned statement apparently issued by or on behalf of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) said that at 2.30pm on Tuesday an incident of hydrogen sulphide gas leakage occurred when the Khushab heavy water plant was under annual maintenance and was in a shutdown status.

The Khushab Nuclear Complex, some 250km from Islamabad, used to produce plutonium, a preferred material for building light and sophisticated nuclear weapons. It comprises two units — heavy water production plant and weapon grade plutonium production plant. The incident occurred at the heavy water plant.

No official of the PAEC was willing to say anything on record.

Panic gripped the area and an emergency was declared in the local hospital. The adjoining area in a radius of 16km was sealed and hundreds of employees living in a colony near the plant were evacuated as a precautionary measure.

The statement said: “Situation was immediately brought under control, but two workers lost their lives while controlling the incident.”

It said that an inquiry had been ordered to ascertain the cause of the incident.

“There is no threat to public life as all the leaking gas has been burnt in the flare system of the plant,” the statement added.

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