Hundreds poisoned in Dominican Republic

13:29, March 16, 2010      

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Hundreds of people were poisoned and sent to hospitals for treatment on Monday in the Dominican Republic's central province of Sanchez Ramirez, news reports said.

A pipeline of the Canadian mining company Barrick Gold exploded, sending out a strong smell of sulfide, Ricardo Nieves, doctor from a local hospital said, adding more than 1,000 people could be affected.

However, Fernando Sanchez, executive director of Barrick Gold denied the explosion, saying the poisoning event was caused by food, and lowered the number of people affected to only 200.

The company Sodexo, which supplied the food, will give detailed explanation of the event, Sanchez said, noting it is an incident that affected only a part of the 3,550 employees in the mine.

Members of the epidemiology center have gone to the affected region to determine the cause of the massive poisoning.

The people affected have been sent to local hospitals and Dominican Health Minister Bautista Rojas Gomez has ordered reinforcement of capacities of local hospitals to treat the patients.

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