Five die after drinking contaminated water in Hyderabad

May 5th, 2009 - 5:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Hyderabad, May 5 (IANS) At least five people died Tuesday after drinking contaminated water here while more than 70 others were admitted to various hospitals.
Tension prevailed in Bholakpur area in Secunderabad as hundreds of people took to the streets following the death of five persons since Tuesday morning. Police also had a tough time controlling angry crowds at four hospitals, where over 70 people - a majority of them children - were admitted.

Officials of Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWS&SB), which supplies drinking water to the city, said it was a case of suspected contamination.

“We are trying to ascertain the actual cause of deaths,” said an official. He said the deaths were not reported from any hospital but residents complained of five persons succumbing even before they could be rushed to hospital.

Water bottles containing polluted water supplied through pipelines were kept near the body of a woman at her house as her relatives and neighbours staged angry protests against the authorities.

Raising slogans against the water board officials, angry residents also took to the streets in Bholakpur and adjoining areas, demanding immediate arrest of the officials responsible for the tragedy.

“See how polluted this water is,” said a resident while showing a bottle containing highly contaminated water.

Protesters also gathered outside the office of the board and entered into heated arguments with the police. They alleged that they had been getting contaminated water for last three days and the authorities did not act on their complaints.

Tension also prevailed near Gandhi Hospital, Fever Hospital and two other hospitals where people were admitted with complaints of vomiting, diarrhoea and fever.

Health Minister K. Rosaiah told reporters that the board was directed to immediately stop supply of water through pipelines. The board is making arrangements to supply water through tankers.

Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, who is away in Shimla, ordered an inquiry into the incident. He directed officials to take immediate steps to ensure supply of safe drinking water.

Bholakpur, in the heart of the city, had several complaints of contaminated water supply in the past. Residents alleged that sewage often gets mixed with drinking water as the sewerage and water pipelines run parallel or even cross each other.

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