More than 500 workers were hospitalized on May 19 with poisoning symptoms in Thanh Hoa Province. PHOTO: NGOC MINH
A group of more than 500 workers suffering symptoms of poisoning were rushed to hospitals in the north central province of Thanh Hoa on Monday, just a few days after 1,355 workers suffered a similar fate at a local footwear factory.
Members of the latest crop of poisoning victims worked at Hong Fu Co., Ltd., which resumed operation the same day after a three-day closure caused by mass poisoning last week.
Others worked at Rollsport Vietnam, a footwear producer located next door to the Hong Fu factory.
Many workers claimed that they developed respiratory difficulties, dizziness, and vomiting soon after inhaling a “strange smell” that was believed to emanate from a recent shipment of raw materials.
The symptoms first appeared among a small number of workers and spread; some of the victims allegedly lost consciousness.
By the end of the day, more than 500 workers at the two companies had been hospitalized.
Dr. Nguyen Thanh Van, director of Hop Luc General Hospital, told Thanh Nien that the symptoms exhibited by the latest crop of workers were “basically” similar to those seen last week.
Last Thursday, Hong Fu workers were rushed to local hospitals suffering from itchy throats, nausea, vomiting, unconsciousness and convulsions.
They claimed the symptoms began after drinking water provided by the factory.
Initial tests conducted on the questionable water turned up nothing out of the ordinary, Le Huu Uyen, spokesman of Thanh Hoa Department of Health, told the press.
He said the workers may have suffered from neurotoxicant syndromes which occur when substances like arsenic, lead, mercury, manganese, tin, and insecticides attack nervous tissue.
Local public health agencies have yet to identify the toxin.
Tuoi Tre quoted an anonymous worker as saying that the recent poisoning unfurled while workers drank water they'd brought from home.
“We do not know what made us sick. We feel so scared,” the worker said.
In March 2011, nearly 300 workers at Hong Fu were hospitalized with serious food poisoning symptoms like stomachache, vomiting and convulsion, after having lunch at its canteen.
No fatalities were recorded at the time.
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