World News

Chemical leak in China sends 158 to hospital

BEIJING (Reuters) - Nearly 160 people were treated in hospital on Monday after toxic gas escaped from a pharmaceutical factory in southwestern China and seeped into a neighbouring clothes workshop, official media reported.

A porcelain tank of bromine smashed when workers in a suburb of Chongqing were trying to move it, spilling 25 kg (60 lbs) of the highly volatile liquid, the Xinhua agency said.

Of the 158 taken to hospital, doctors were still monitoring 88, but their condition was stable, the report added.

Bromine is corrosive and highly irritating, and can cause headaches, chest pains and suffocation, Xinhua said.

Polluted air and water are a growing concern for many Chinese, even sparking unrest in some areas.

The government is now trying to promote greener development after years of pursuing economic growth at almost any cost but a weak environmental watchdog is struggling to rein in the country’s officials and entrepreneurs.