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Chemical leak poisons 40 in Hebei
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On the morning of May 7, a chemical leak at Hebei Xinfeng Pesticide & Chemical Company in Handan City, Hebei Province, released a cloud of poisonous gas that spread to nearby Qianhao Village, injuring residents. Luckily no one is in critical condition.

The chemical involved, phosphorus trichloride, is a highly corrosive poison used in the manufacture of agricultural pesticides.

Village officials said a total of 40 people were hospitalized. The authorities are providing free aid and treatment to the remaining residents. Villagers will be offered a full medical examination on May 8.

The injured were sent to Handan First Hospital, Fifth Hospital and Lingbei Hospital. A doctor said the patients were suffering from breathing difficulties, but none were in critical condition.

Xinfeng Pesticide & Chemical Company told Yanzhao Metropolis Daily that the accident was caused by a combination of a faulty gas container valve and human error. The standard emergency procedure -- to cover the phosphorus trichloride with sand and soil -- was followed when the accident took place. The faulty valve has been replaced.

(China.org.cn by Li Xiaohua, May 8, 2008)

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