Hungary alert over toxic sludge

An AP photo showing an aerial view of the red slush scattered in Devecser, 
164 kms southwest of the capital Budapest on October 5.
 
Hungary has declared a state of emergency after a toxic red sludge flooded a number of towns southwest of the capital Budapest, claiming lives.

At least four people have been killed and 120 others injured-- some of them seriously. Officials fear the death toll could rise.

In addition, six other people went missing after the walls of a reservoir of residue at an aluminum plant broke.

"It's an ecological catastrophe," AFP quoted environment state secretary Zoltan Illes as saying on Tuesday.

The dike of the reservoir contained a toxic mud slip of an alumina factory near Devecser and released over one million cubic meters of the poisonous chemical, inundating nearby villages.

The sludge has seeped into homes, forcing people to flee.

It is expected to reach the Danube--Europe's second longest river.

Environmental group Greenpeace has blamed plant managers for the country's worst chemical accident. It says satellite imagery taken a day before the disaster shows cracks in the reservoir.

Meanwhile, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) conservation group has expressed concern about the accident's long-term impact on the environment.  
 
Update:
Death toll rises in Hungary toxic spill!
 
The death toll caused by a flood of toxic waste from an alumina plant in Hungary has risen to four, including two children, while seven other people are still missing.

The State Secretariat of Governmental Communications said the government has declared a state of emergency in three counties that have been affected by the toxic mud.

At least a million cubic meters of toxic sludge -- a waste product from aluminum production -- has spilled into the area as a result of an explosion at a nearby aluminum production reservoir in the town of Kolontar on Monday afternoon.

The spill is threatening to pollute nearby rivers as the government reports that the waste has already reached the river Marcal, the CNN reported.

Hungarian Defense Ministry has dispatched army vehicles, helicopters and soldiers to aid the rescue operations. 

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