90 injured by toxic fumes from acid leak

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 May, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 May, 2001, 12:00am

Ninety people were injured in Guangdong's Zhanjiang city on Saturday when two tonnes of concentrated sulphuric acid leaked from a tank at an abandoned dye factory, official media and hospital staff said yesterday.

The leak in Mazhang district, about 5km from the city's urban area, produced a thick cloud of poisonous acid fumes, affecting about three square km.

Fifteen minutes after receiving reports of the leak, authorities started evacuating residents from the neighbourhood, Xinhua said.

Police said the container belonged to Crown Chemical, which ran the dye factory until 1997, when it was shut down. It was unclear why the acid had been allowed to remain in the container.

After firefighters failed to control the situation, authorities sought help from the navy, which despatched 30 members of a chemical warfare unit to clean up the mess.

The acid was later channelled into a ditch and neutralised with caustic soda.

Of the 90 people injured in the incident, most suffered burns or from inhalation of toxic fumes.

Xinhua said 21 of the injured were firefighters and soldiers. The Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis News yesterday said seven of the 90 were seriously injured.

Several officials were among those hurt.

According to a doctor at Zhanjiang's Guangdong Medical Academy Hospital, one of the injured was still being treated in intensive care yesterday . He declined to elaborate.

At least two other hospitals in Zhanjiang were treating the victims.

The Zhanjiang Government and police were not available for comment.