Honduras: River contaminated with pesticides

Tegulcigalpa The international medical humanitarian organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres warns of toxic spill in the Choluteca River. An undetermined quantity of pesticides and otherwise toxic material from chemical and agro-chemical production plants were spilled into the river as a result of the floods provoked by the hurricane which struck Central America two weeks ago.

"Many barrels have been lost, they are in the river and it is feared that people are using them to store their water," explains Maria Basarán, Medical Coordinator of the MSF intervention in Honduras. "Although there is no laboratory confirmation yet, two of the chemicals which have apparently spilled into the river are deadly at minimal concentration levels," she added.

One medical team working in the affected zone treated more than 30 cases of poisoning in the municipality of Marcovia, Department of Choluteca. It is feared that in the coming days the number of cases will increase if toxicity in the water is confirmed.

Given the menace to the health of the population in question, MSF has sent a first consignment of antidote and requests that concerned authorities take the necessary measures to protect the population living in the affected zone. The humanitarian organisation is preparing a contingency plan. Some 360,000 persons live in the Department of Choluteca.