THANH NIEN NEWS, OCTOBER 24, 2006
A pesticide warehouse that went up in flames three days ago in southern Vietnam is posing a deadly threat to local residents’ health and livelihood.
Many people have fainted while bathing in or consuming water from rivers flowing through several districts of An Giang province in the Mekong delta.
The trouble started when a warehouse situated beside a river in Thanh My Tay commune in Chau Phu district burned down last Saturday, releasing a large quantity of pesticides into the river.
Authorities estimate some 2.5 tons of insecticides seeped into the river whose waters irrigate canals, rice fields, and aquaculture ponds in the district.
A day later, the chemicals flowed downriver to at least four other districts – Chau Thanh, Thoai Son, Tri Ton, and Tinh Bien – leaving dead fish and shrimp floating along canals and fields.
The authorities have issued a ban on using water from rivers and canals but residents said it would mean dying of thirst since they were the only source of water.
A farmer said no fresh water had been provided to residents since the disaster.
The authorities have not estimated the damage caused to farmers.
Dead creatures continue to drift along the surfaces of rivers, canals, and flooded rice fields in the six districts and their surrounding areas.
Reportedly, 33 people have fainted since the time of the blaze.
Ngo Thi Phi, 44 living next to the warehouse, said when she knew about the fire she had rushed into her house to carry her mother out to safety. Immediately after coming out of the house, both had fallen to the ground in a faint. She said still had a headache.
Farmers said the deaths of shrimps, fishes, and other aquatic animals had already cost them hundreds of millions of dong (VND100 million = US$6,250).
Several years ago, a pesticide warehouse located on the Vinh Te canal in An Giang’s Chau Doc city had caught fire and caused severe damage in the area.
Reported by Thanh Tuan – Translated by Minh Phat