October 7, 2008

Contaminated Water Poisoned 136 Villagers in South China

Text of report in English by official Chinese news agency Xinhua (New China News Agency)

[Xinhua by contaminated water in south China: "136 Villagers Poisoned by Contaminated Water in South China"]

NANNING, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) - Contaminated drinking water has poisoned 136 villagers in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, the local government said on Tuesday based on an initial investigation.

Residents of two villages in Hechi City began to show symptoms of swelling to the face and eyes, vomiting and blurred eyesight as of Friday, according to the city government.

Medical tests found excessive amounts of arsenic in their urine samples.

Environmental monitoring measures indicated the water source of the villagers was polluted by industrial waste from a nearby metallurgy enterprise.

The unnamed firm discharged arsenic-rich waste before 2005, which spread slowly underground to a pond, according to the investigation.

The current symptoms of those affected indicated the poisoning was not serious and immediate treatment could completely cure them, medical experts said in the respective villages.

The local government transported safe drinking water to the affected villages and offered the necessary therapy to those sickened. In addition, a search for other possible victims was underway.

Originally published by Xinhua news agency, Beijing, in English 1445 7 Oct 08.

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