Buenos Aires covered in toxic cloud from chemical fireSouce:Xinhua Publish By Thomas Whittle Updated 07/12/2012 5:35 pm in World / no comments
BUENOS AIRES, Dec. 6 — A pesticide container that caught fire in the port area of Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires blanketed the city in a toxic cloud of smoke Thursday, local Civil Defense Chief Daniel Russo said.
Authorities warned residents to stay indoors to avoid breathing the fumes from the container, which may have contained trash as well as chemical compounds.
Russo said until the strong smell dissipated, officials recommended people remain “inside their houses and apartments, with the doors and windows closed.”
The smoke could cause “larger problems, such as eye irritations, ” Russo added.
Due to the thickness of the cloud, subway lines and rail services in Buenos Aries were suspended to keep people away from the neighborhoods of Retiro, Recoleta, Constitucion and the financial square, where the fumes were strongest.
Authorities also canceled water transportation services between Buenos Aires and Uruguay’s capital Montevideo, and flights from the local Metropolitano Airport, as a preventive measure.
Argentina’s Security and Justice Minister Sergio Berni said the toxic cloud was from a burning agricultural pesticide that was stored in a container at the port’s Terminal 4, and the situation had been brought under control.
Guillermo Montenegro, the Security and Justice Minister for the capital, said “it seems the pesticide has a medium toxicity,” but added “we are waiting for a report from the Health Ministry to find out what the exact composition of the cloud is.”
Several buildings in downtown Buenos Aires were evacuated, despite the call to stay indoors.
More than 20 ambulances from the Emergency Medical Assistance Service were attending to people with symptoms of toxic smoke inhalation, but no other injuries were reported.