On October 4, 2010, an accident occurred at the Ajkai Timföldgyár alumina plant in southern Hungary. A corner wall of a retaining pond broke, releasing a torrent of toxic red sludge. According to news reports, a wall of waste thundered down a local stream, inundating several nearby towns, including Kolontar and Devecser, where the sludge was 2 meters (6.5 feet) deep in places. Four people were killed immediately, likely from drowning, and several more were missing. Dozens of residents were hospitalized for chemical burns.
Workers cleaned up toxic sludge in the flooded village of Devecser, Hungary, on Tuesday.
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: October 4, 2010
The toll rose to four dead, six missing and at least 120 people injured after a reservoir failed Monday at the Ajkai Timfoldgyar plant in Ajka, a town 100 miles (160 kilometers) southwest of Budapest, the capital.
Several hundred tons of plaster were being poured into the Marcal River to bind the toxic sludge and prevent it from flowing on, the National Disaster Management Directorate said.
So far, about 35.3 million cubic feet (1 million cubic meters) of sludge has leaked from the reservoir, affecting an estimated 15.4 square miles (40 square kilometers), Environmental Affairs State Secretary Zoltan Illes told the state news wire MTI.
Illes called the flood an "ecological catastrophe" and said the sludge could reach the Raba and Danube rivers. He suspended activity at the plant and ordered the company to repair the damaged reservoir.
The disaster agency said 390 residents had to be temporarily relocated and 110 were rescued from the flooded towns, including Kolontal, Devecser and Somlovasarhely. Firefighters and soldiers swept through the region Tuesday carrying out cleanup tasks with bulldozers.
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