From: eagle_wng Russians falling ill after chemical leak
April 22 2005 at 07:37PM
Moscow - More than 100 people in the Caucasus region of southern Russia were affected by breathing problems over a six day period earlier this month after what appears to have been a major chemical leak, the Russian emergencies ministry said on Friday.
"Between April 15 and 21, in Kabardino-Balkaria (Russian Caucasus) in the district of Terek 118 people went to hospital and at least 27 were admitted as a result of a general worsening of their state of health," a statement said.
All the victims came from three villages in the same area.
The ministry said the problems might have arisen from a leak of hydrogen sulphide from a nearby oil well but "tests carried out have shown nothing abnormal".
An enquiry into the causes of the widespread respiratory difficulties is under way, focusing on the possibility that health standards had not been respected or work at the well not been carried out correctly.
On Friday local people left their houses to demand explanations from the authorities and call for the enquiry to be speeded up, according to pictures broadcast by the NTV television station, which also showed a woman taken to hospital in a state of asphyxiation.
The school and nursery were closed. Local officials said there had been no loss of life, but were contradicted by local people who said one woman had died.
"We buried a woman yesterday," one local resident told the station. "After the gas escaped she had an attack of hypertension."
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