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Arsenic-sickened villagers out of danger in Guangxi
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A local government official said on Wednesday that 136 villagers were in stable condition after drinking water contaminated by arsenic in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

"All those sickened are in stable condition," said Wei Kaizhong, health bureau director of Hechi City. "Residents in the affected villages have now access to safe drinking water."

The city government is expanding the search for other possible victims.

Residents of two villages in Hechi began to show symptoms of swelling to the face and eyes, vomiting and blurred eyesight on Friday.

Medical tests found excessive amounts of arsenic in 136 people's urine samples, said Ge Xianmin, head of Guangxi regional occupational disease prevention and control institute.

"The villagers were slightly poisoned. They can be cured in 9 to 15 days under timely treatment," Ge said.

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

The city authorities said Typhoon Hagupit triggered torrential rain on Sept. 25. The waste water containing arsenic overflew from the unnamed firm and polluted nearby ponds and underground water.

Investigation into the poisoning is still underway.

(Xinhua News Agency October 8, 2008)

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