Terrified Texas residents were ordered to stay inside their homes and turn off all air conditioning “immediately” after a chemical leak last night.

A shelter in place order was issued in La Porte as authorities raced to investigate the “airborne irritant”.

The chemical released was hygrogen sulfide – a grim gas known for a pungent rotten egg smell, reports the Independent.

It can affect the upper respiratory system, officials warned.

“Harris County Pollution Control has responded to conduct air monitoring and assist in identifying the source of the odor,” the city’s emergency management team said.

“We recommend that you remain sheltered in place at your location until the City issues an All Clear.”

After an hour huddled inside their homes, locals were assured it was safe to go outside and turn on their air conditioning again.

Lubrizol Plant, which produces specialist chemicals for industry and was the source of the leak, said it was caused by a rail car vapor release.

But they assured the city: “Other than potential noticeable nuisance odors, there is no impact or risk to the surrounding community.

“We are actively working to resolve this matter, including working with local authorities.”

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One worried resident took to Twitter to complain and wrote: “Stepped outside tonight, and the air (still) unmistakably smells like chemicals.

“I’m a long way from LaPorte, in the Hobby Airport area. Something’s up.”

Top scientists are continuing to monitor the air quality in the area.

They told locals: “Please be aware that the odor may still be detected when you turn your A/C system back on, but it should dissipate over time.

“If you are concerned about an odor at your location, please contact the City’s non-emergency line.”

Earlier this year, UK residents were faced with a similar gas leak and 700 people were rushed to a temporary accommodation.

The blame was attributed to a “broken gas pipe” in the Sussex area as officials admitted it was a “major incident”.

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