Hungary

Hungary declares state of emergency over deadly sludge

Reuters

Hungary is battling a toxic mud spill that has killed four people, including two children, in what officials describe as Hungary’s worst chemical disaster yet.

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Hungary has declared a state of emergency after the walls of a residue reservoir broke at an aluminium plant, releasing a torrent of red mud into the environment.

Three villages were swamped west of Budapest and there are fears the sludge has already found its way into the Marcal River, potentially polluting connecting Raba and Danube rivers.

The river of red mud has killed four people including two children aged three and one. A 25-year-old man was killed when the toxic flood overturned his car.

Dozens of residents were also hospitalised with alleged burns and hundreds were evacuated. The red mud contains highly corrosive elements and harmful substances such as lead.

In some areas the torrent of toxic mud stood one to two meters deep and reports say up to 40 square kilometres of land were affected.

State secretary for the environment ministry, Zoltan Illes, described the accident as the worst-ever chemical disaster yet. Scientists say the sludge can destroy plants and kill fish if it pollutes the country’s waterways. There is great concern that the sludge will reach the Danube River, Europe's second largest river, within four or five days.

The owners of the residue reservoir, the Hungarian Aluminium Production and Trade Company (MAL), have been ordered to suspend production and say that repair work to prevent further spills hs started.
 

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