10 farmers asphyxiated in Mexico

March 23rd, 2009 - 1:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Mexico City, March 23 (EFE) Ten farmers were asphyxiated by gas fumes leaking into an agricultural wastewater pumping system they were trying to clean in the Mexican state of Hidalgo, emergency services officials said.
Six men were initially found dead at the scene and three others injured in Saturday’s incident were transported by air to various hospitals in the area, said Hidalgo emergency management office chief Miguel Garcia Conde.

However, later Sunday, Garcia Conde announced that four other peasants had died and there was “just a single survivor”.

“We have 10 people dead, eight at the scene and two in the hospital, and one in serious condition (in the hospital). One further probable victim is being sought” by emergency crews, Garcia Conde said.

The survivor was the man “who had the most rapid access to the (open) air”, after the group fell victim to the toxic gases that had accumulated in the piping system, the official said.

Initial reports said four of the farmers who were cleaning the pumping system entered it “without adequate respiratory protection equipment”, a mistake that apparently set in motion the tragic events, Garcia Conde said.

When the four men saw the predicament they were in, they called for help and several companions came into the piping system after them, but they also began suffering from the toxic fumes released by decomposing organic matter that had accumulated there, and “they went from being rescuers to (being) victims”, the official said.

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