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Thousands flee huge acid leak

ABOUT 10,000 workers and residents were evacuated and more than 100 workers hospitalized after three tons of hydrochloric acid leaked at a chemical plant.

Heavy black smoke with a pungent odor mushroomed suddenly from the Tianjing Industrial Company in the Jiemei Industry Park at Longgang District in Shenzhen City yesterday afternoon, the Guandong-based Nanfang Daily reported today.

Thousands of workers from nearby factories ran to escape from the park. They rushed towards the gates but were driven back by the smoke and fumes and had to run to a facing wall and climb it to escape. Some cut their hands on the broken glass embedded in the top of the wall.

More than 100 people suffering respiratory difficulties were sent to two local hospitals.

Police cordoned off the area and security guards with gas masks maintained order as packed ambulances drove out and workers ran from the scene with hands covering their faces.

Fire fighters with gas masks, working in shifts because of the fumes, sprayed water to dilute the acid.

The acid had been stored in outside tanks. A burst pipe is believed to be the cause of the accident.

Authorities are monitoring air and water quality nearby but have not reported major pollution.


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