From: V.M. Thomas, Associated Press
Published September 21, 2004 12:00 AM

Thousands of Fish Killed by Toxic Algae in Southern India

COCHIN, India — An outbreak of a destructive algae has killed thousands of fish in southern India, causing more than 90 children to fall ill because of the stench, officials said recently.


The waters off Valiyathura village in southern Kerala state are crimson because of the outbreak — known as red tide — which occurs naturally when Karenia brevis algae blooms in higher than normal numbers, authorities said.


The algae affects the central nervous system of fish and seafood and can be toxic to humans.


Thousands of dead fish have washed ashore, producing a stench that sent at least 90 children suffering from nausea to hospitals, said health authorities in Valiyathura.


A local school was closed after scores of children began vomiting and collapsing recently.


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Government scientists were investigating the fumes and its link with the algae, said Dominic Presentation, the state's fisheries minister.


"We have asked the villagers not to worry. The government is taking all precaution against any health hazards in the area," he said.


Initial reports from health officials had indicated the odor could have been caused by "the increased volumes of fertilizer, sewage, and other biological waste pumped into the sea," Presentation said.


Many parts of India, including large cities, do not have modern sewage disposal or treatment plants, and solid wastes are often dumped in the sea.


Valiyathura is about 210 kilometers (130 miles) south of Cochin, Kerala's commercial hub.


Source: Associated Press


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