October 5th, 2010
08:50 AM ET

4 dead after toxic mud floods villages in Hungary

A woman surveys the damage in Devecser, Hungary after the village was floodedby toxic red sludge from a local aluminium plant.

A woman surveys the damage in Devecser, Hungary after the village was flooded by toxic red sludge from a local aluminium plant.

Four people, including two children, were killed after a reservoir broke and flooded three villages in western Hungary with toxic red mud, officials said Tuesday.

The government has declared a state of emergency in three counties, the State Secretariat of Governmental Communications said.

The National Catastrophe Protection Directorate (OKF) said the two children who died were 1 and 3 years old. A 35-year-old man was killed in his car, and a woman was killed in her home, the government said.

Rescue workers are looking for seven people who are missing. They have treated at least 116 casualties, including eight people who were seriously injured. Most have been airlifted by helicopter to hospitals in the capital, Budapest.

The reservoir burst in the town of Kolontar on Monday afternoon, the government said Tuesday.

At least a million cubic meters of red mud have spilled so far, the government said, affecting the villages of Kolontar, Devecser and Somlovasarhely.

The toxic sludge - a waste product from aluminum production - could potentially endanger two major rivers, the Danube and the Raba, the government said. It has already reached the river Marcal.

The Environment and Water Management Center has experts working on preventing the sludge from affecting the Danube and Raba, it said.

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Filed under: Hungary • Weather
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. noname

    Ive been living here for 10 years. It is catastrophy. WE're afraid, the other side will break too. We hope it wont.:( this uncertainty is awful. I dont believe it can happen, and next to us ...:(

    October 5, 2010 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  2. Dogbert

    More pics from a hungarian news portal:

    October 5, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Kevin

    Why doesn't this article mention the name of the company responsible.

    This is the company that owns the plant.

    "MAL Zrt, the owner of the plant, said in a statement that there had been no sign of the impending disaster, and that the red sludge did not qualify as hazardous waste according to European Union standards."

    "The thick, highly alkaline substance has a caustic effect on the skin. The sludge contains heavy metals, such as lead, and is slightly radioactive. Inhaling its dust can cause lung cancer."

    how can they live with themselves

    Source of quotes:

    October 6, 2010 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
    • ChipH

      pH13 is about as caustic as you can get on earth, all it would have taken was acid neutralization, are they that cheapskate? Is life and property that cheap in Hungary, and if so, why is America doing business with Hungary? 'The fish may have died upstream', oh, man, I can't stop laughing even though is hurts so bad.

      October 14, 2010 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
  4. Rapolthy Andrea

    So many politicians "live" with the fact that they are irresponsible – only thinking of their own profit. Gyurcsány is a good friend of the factory owner – and most likely has money invested there. They probably knew there was some kind of danger – the had the plant/reservoir walls checked just a week ago....??? Aint that funny?? Of course everything was alright. So they covered up for the foreseeable desaster in time. But the damaged caused will not be able to be covered by money – there isnt THAT MUCH MONEY in the world. It is all just so very sad.

    October 7, 2010 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  5. comment found

    This must have been a conspiration. Getting rid of 1 million tons of chemical waste (with pH=13.3) would cost about 1000 million dollars.
    This money was saved by the communist management of the factory (Gyurcsany's friends), as a disaster could have been created. Lots of people are in hospital, some people are lost or dead.
    Welcome to the real world!

    October 8, 2010 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
  6. Reply

    Pritty picture of the sludge:
    Next sludge flood is ready to come next week. Just listen!
    Welcome to the real world!

    October 9, 2010 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |