More than 3,000 South Koreans near the southeastern city of Gumi have received medical treatment as the damage from a major toxic chemical leak continues to grow, media reports said Sunday.
An explosion at the factory of chemical maker Hube Global on September 27, which killed five people, led to the leak of hydrofluoric acid which has affected crops, livestock and villagers near the plant.
Nearly 3,200 people have so far been treated for nausea, chest pain, rashes, sore eyes or sore throats after apparently inhaling toxic fumes, Yonhap news agency said, citing data from the city government.
The explosion and leak affected nearly 80 firms, some of which were forced to shut plants. The esimated damage has increased to 17.7 billion won ($15.9 million) from 9.4 billion won previously reported, Yonhap and other media reports said.
The leak also damaged 212 hectares (524 acres) of farmland and affected 3,200 livestock, which showed symptoms similar to a cold.
About 300 villagers at Bongsan-ri and Imcheon-ri near the plant have been evacuated to temporary shelters after complaining of health risks, with some reporting blood in their saliva.
“We decided to move because the government overlooked us and did not come up with countermeasures,” Park Myeong-Seok, the head of Bongsang-ri, was quoted by Yonhap as saying.
Some 1,200 residents remain in the villages where an acrid smell still hangs in the air and crops and trees have withered, Yonhap said.
A team of 26 government officials and experts is expected to announce on Monday the result of their three-day investigation.