From: Retuers, BUDAPEST
Published October 11, 2010 07:04 AM

Hungary races to raise dam to avert new toxic spill

Hungarian authorities raced to finish building an emergency dam by Tuesday to hold back a threatened second spill of toxic sludge, and hunted for clues to the causes of last week's deadly industrial spill.

A million cubic meters of red mud, a by-product of alumina production, burst out of a plant reservoir into villages and waterways in Hungary last Monday, killing seven people, injuring 123 and fouling rivers including a tributary of the Danube.

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"We hope to have the dam finished by Tuesday," Prime Minister Viktor Orban's spokesman told TV2 on Monday.

"We have 4,000 people and 300 machines working at the scene so we are doing our utmost to prevent another tragedy."

With the nearby town of Devecser, home to 5,400 people, still on alert and the village of Kolontar evacuated, the cause of the disaster -- described by the prime minister as Hungary's worst ecological catastrophe -- remained unclear.

While recovery crews scrambled to raise the emergency dam, police were talking to Zoltan Bakonyi, the head of MAL Zrt, which owns the burst reservoir.

Photo shows the damaged reservoir near an alumina plant, seen from the air in Kolontar, 150 km (93.2 miles) west of Budapest, October 9, 2010.
Credit: REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh

Article continues: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE69415O20101011

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