Carbon monoxide leak at Atlanta school sickens nearly 50 people

ATLANTA Mon Dec 3, 2012 1:28pm EST

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ATLANTA (Reuters) - Nearly 50 students and teachers were hospitalized in Atlanta on Monday after becoming ill due to a carbon monoxide leak at an elementary school, officials said.

The 43 students and six teachers from Finch Elementary School were all "conscious and alert" when they were taken to the hospitals, Atlanta Fire Department spokeswoman Marian McDaniel said.

Officials determined a faulty furnace at the 3-year-old school to be the source of the leak, McDaniel said. Carbon monoxide levels inside the school were "the highest we've ever seen," she said.

The school doesn't have carbon monoxide detectors, and none are required by Georgia law, McDaniel said.

Fire officials initially received a call that five people were unconscious at the school as a result of the leak. But first responders determined that although students and teachers were ill, many suffering from headaches and nausea, they did not lose consciousness, McDaniel said.

The students and teachers affected by the carbon monoxide were undergoing examinations at two hospitals, she said.

McDaniel said those not sickened at the school, which has about 500 students, were evacuated to a nearby middle school. Authorities hoped to reopen the elementary school on Tuesday.

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Eric Beech)

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