Mexico Leak Forces Evacuations - Malathion
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS -
MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Hundreds of people in central Mexico were evacuated and 120 were hospitalized after an accident at a pesticide factory released clouds of malathion pesticide, authorities said Wednesday.
The accident occurred late Tuesday at a plant owned by the Mexican chemical firm, Tekchem, in the agricultural hub of Salamanca, 200 miles northeast of Mexico City.
`People reported dizziness, vomiting, and skin and eye irritations,'' said Arturo Gutierrez, the civil defense director in Salamanca. ``The cloud was quite dense and large.''
About 1,100 people were evacuated, with about 500 taken to improvised shelters at government buildings in Salamanca. Most of them were able to return to their homes Wednesday after the two-mile-wide cloud dispersed.
Thirty-six people remained hospitalized Wednesday, and five of them were under close observation by doctors for more severe reactions to the gas.
Malathion is used in the United States to kill mosquitoes and a host of agricultural pests. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has said it doesn't pose a serious risk to most people, but the pesticide is suspected of sickening 123 people in Florida in 1999.
However, the quantity and density of the gas cloud involved in Tuesday's accident was apparently far above what people experience in normal spraying of the pesticide.
The accident occurred when emergency valves opened automatically after pressure rose in tanks holding malathion at the plant, Gutierrez said.
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