Hungary sludge death toll rises after two bodies found

Planet Earth

BBC Online

The BBC's Duncan Kennedy: "The mud is all around. You can't escape it"

The death toll following the spill of a large amount of toxic red sludge from an industrial plant in western Hungary has risen to seven, officials say. Disaster unit chief Tibor Dobson said two bodies had been found near the town of Devecser, but were likely residents missing from Kolontar, a town nearby.

 


Earlier, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said the River Danube was no longer under threat of widespread pollution.

Mr Orban said the situation had now been brought "under control".Experts have been pouring large quantities of clay and acid into affected waterways in an effort to neutralise the alkaline pollutants.

 

'Hope'

Kolontar and Devecser were the towns hardest hit when up to 700,000 cubic metres (24.7m cu ft) of red sludge flooded from a burst reservoir at an alumina plant in Ajka on Monday. Officials had earlier put the size of the spill at 1m cubic metres.

The sludge reached the Danube on Thursday, pushing the pH level to 9, well below the pH13.5 measured in the worst-hit tributaries. By Friday morning, the pH level had fallen to 8-8.2. Water is pH7 when neutral, with the safety levels ranging from pH6.5 to pH8.5

 

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