Hungary declares state of emergency over toxic spill | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 05.10.2010
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Hungary declares state of emergency over toxic spill

Hungary has declared a state of emergency in three counties over a toxic sludge spill that has killed at least four people and injured more than 100 others.

A Hungarian soldier, wearing a chemical protection gear, cleans a street flooded by toxic sludge

Hungarian soldiers were called in to clean the toxic sludge from streets

Rescue workers in western Hungary say that four people have been killed after toxic red sludge flooded several towns and villages.

The roughly 600,000 cubic meters of slurry spilled from a reservoir on Monday after the tank burst at the huge Ajkai Timfoldgyar Zrt aluminum plant. The flood of sludge reached a depth of two meters in some areas.

The sludge contains poisonous heavy metals that can cause burns on contact with skin.

Twenty people remain missing, and over 100 others have been hospitalized.

A Hungarian woman reacts while seeing her home flooded by toxic mud

Seven villages were flooded by the toxic sludge

The National Disaster Unit (NDU) denied reports of a second burst point at the reservoir.

"We have poured multiple tons of plaster into the Marcal River and hope to stem the toxic flow that way. The toxicity of the sludge moderates with every kilometer," NDU spokeswoman Gyorgyi Tottos said.

"We have three people confirmed dead and another person who has not been confirmed to have died from the flood," he said.

Environment Ministry State Secretary Zoltan Illes, who visited Kolontar Tuesday, described the incident as the worst-ever chemical accident in Hungary. "It's an ecological catastrophe," he said.

Author: Darren Mara (AFP/Reuters)
Editor: Nancy Isenson

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