Seven rushed to hospital after ‘possible irritant’ in the air at Limerick university

Staff and students were evacuated from the building as emergency responders attended the scene. Photo: Liam Burke.

SEVEN students and staff at the Technological University of the Shannon’s (TUS) Limerick campus were taken from the campus to University Hospital Limerick (UHL) on today (January 31) after college patrons complained of experiencing burning sensations in their throats and watering eyes.

The university’s main building was evacuated around 11am this morning and it’s understood that a major emergency response plan was swung into action at University Hospital Limerick, which saw paramedics hand over the seven patients to a team of doctors and nurses that were placed on standby at the hospital.

A reliable source said that some of those brought to the hospital by ambulance complained of “burning throats and watery eyes” after it appeared they had been exposed to an invisible irritant at a building in the university.

A fleet of HSE ambulances and emergency responders attached to Limerick City and County Fire and Rescue Service reported to the scene.

There were also reports of localised evacuations on the campus.

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Investigations into the cause of the incident were continuing on Wednesday afternoon at the time of going to print.

A statement provided by TUS read: “Technological University of the Shannon (TUS) Moylish Campus’s main building was evacuated at approximately 11am today as members of Limerick Fire Service investigated complaints of a possible irritant in the air in one part of the building.”

“No source was found for the irritant and, following the inspection, the fire service have advised that the main building can re-open at 2:30pm.”

A source familiar with the incident said persons at TUS complained of a strange odour followed by a burning sensation in their throats.

“They could not see it but they could smell it, it could have been a far more serious and everyone who was taken to hospital is being looked after,” they said.

A TUS spokeswoman said later that “as protocol dictates, seven people (including TUS staff and students) were taken to the University Hospital Limerick by ambulance as a precaution”.

“TUS has begun an investigation into the cause of this incident,” they added

More than 1,500 students are registered across seven TUS campuses across the country.

UHL has been asked for comment but none was received at time of going to print.