"Hungary Sludge Flood Called 'Ecological Disaster'"

"KOLONTAR, Hungary — A lethal torrent of toxic red sludge from a metal refinery engulfed towns in Hungary, burning villagers through their clothes and threatening an ecological disaster Tuesday as it swept toward the Danube River.

The flood of caustic red mud triggered a state of emergency declaration by Hungarian officials. At least four people were killed, six were missing and 120 injured, many with burns.

Hundreds were evacuated in the aftermath of the disaster Monday, when a gigantic sludge reservoir burst its banks at an alumina plant in Ajka, a town 100 miles (160 kilometers) southwest of Budapest, the capital. The torrent of sludge inundated homes, swept cars off roads and damaged bridges.

Named for its bright red color, the material is a waste product in aluminum production that contains heavy metals and is toxic if ingested."

Bela Szandelszky and Pablo Gorond report for the Associated Press October 5, 2010.

AP Photos

Wednesday, October 6, 2010