September 25, 2022

Deadly Flood of Toxic Sludge in Western Hungary

Aerial View Before Disaster in Hungary, by Google Imagery

Aerial View Before Disaster in Hungary, from Google Imagery

Officials have declared a state of emergency in western Hungary after a torrent of noxious red sludge burst from a chemical plant reservoir into the River Danube and other major waterways.

At least four people, including a 3-month old infant, are confirmed dead, with 120 injured. Six additional people are missing.

At least 7 towns and villages have been affected including Devecser, which was engulfed in toxic mud up to two meters deep.

The deluge pushed cars from roads and destroyed houses and bridges requiring hundreds of residents to be evacuated.

The sludge consists of a combination of water and mine waste loaded with heavy metals. It is known to be hazardous, according to Hungary’s equivalent of FEMA – the NDGDM.

Although the cause of the victims’ deaths is not yet officially established, it is thought that they probably drowned.

Approximately 21 to 24 million cubic feet of sludge surged from the plant, located about 100 miles southwest of the Hungarian capital, Budapest.

7,000 people have been directly affected by the calamity, prompting a state of emergency declaration in Veszprem, the county where the disaster started, as well as Vas and Gyor-Moson-Sopron, where the toxic mud seemed to be heading.

The NDGDM says that at least 110 residents have been rescued from the flooded area with 390 relocated.

About 500 police and military personnel, including six emergency rescue teams, have been sent to the disaster area. Plaster has been dumped into the Marcal river to bind the sludge and end any additional flooding.

Reports indicate that a police investigation has been initiated and that tests to assess the environmental impact of the disaster are continuing.

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