Sun, October 10, 2010
World > Asia-Pacific

No new cracks found on red sludge pool in Hungary

2010-10-10 09:01:04 GMT2010-10-10 17:01:04 (Beijing Time)

Hungarian soldiers wearing protective gear are washed by water jets in Devecser, 164 kms southwest of Budapest, Hungary, Saturday Oct. 9, 2010. Five days ago more than 750,000 cubic meters of toxic sludge spilled out of a nearby reservoir flooding seven villages. (AP Photos/MTI, Lajos Nagy)

Hungarian engineers didn't detect any new cracks overnight in a red sludge reservoir that was at risk of collapse, officials said Sunday, expressing hope there wouldn't be a repeat of the toxic deluge that killed at least seven people last week.

Disaster agency spokesman Tibor Dobson said the older cracks were being repaired, but that it was too soon to consider lowering the current state of alert. Protective walls were being built around the reservoir's damaged area to hold back any further spills.

"I would describe the situation as hopeful, but nothing has really changed," Dobson told The Associated Press. "The wall to protect Kolontar is planned to be finished by tonight, but it will likely be several days before residents may be able to move back."

Nearly all of Kolontar's 800 residents were evacuated Saturday, when Prime Minister Viktor Orban said the north wall of the massive storage pool was expected to "very likely" collapse after cracks were detected at several points along the dam.

The roughly 6,000 residents of neighboring Devecser, just north of Kolontar, were told by police Saturday to pack a single bag and get ready to leave at a moment's notice.

"This hasn't changed," Dobson said. "We are still on guard in case of any more spills"

At least seven people died and one was missing in the wake of Monday's toxic flood, which engulfed several towns in western Hungary after a corner of the gigantic reservoir of a metals plant gave way and released around 700,000 cubic meters (184 million gallons) of caustic red sludge.


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