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Pig deaths frighten villagers

By Zhang Yiwei (Global Times)

13:09, April 18, 2013

The mysterious overnight death of more than 400 pigs and 100 dogs in a village in the city of Yanshi, Henan Province, Monday has frightened villagers, some of whom blamed the mass death on fumes from a nearby chemical plant.

A number of villagers living nearby the chemical plant in Dongtun village in Shanhua township woke Monday to find their pigs and dogs dead or dying.

Villagers said they saw their pigs running around in the pigsty, foaming at the mouth before falling dead. Some of their dogs began to bark before suddenly collapsing, the Zhengzhou-based Henan Business Daily reported.

The chemical plant and other factories in the nearby town have been ordered closed and their electricity has been cut.

The local factory, which manufactures fluorine products, has long been resented by villagers because of the fumes it produces and for polluting the water, reported the Dahe Daily, which is also published in Zhengzhou. Villagers said the stench in the air on Monday was unbearable.

"The sudden mass death was in an area close to the factory in the west and central parts of the village," a village doctor surnamed Kou told the Global Times, adding that the farms most severely affected are within a kilometer of the chemical plant.

"Dead animals were found in nearly half of the village. The animals just suddenly died without any warning," Kou said, adding that some residents came to her clinic complaining of dizziness but their vital signs were normal.

Kou said local authorities called in other health practitioners to conduct tests on local residents and their reports said no abnormalities were found.

Tests were also conducted on the air and soil and both were found to meet health standards.

A deputy head of the township surnamed Zhou told the Global Times Wednesday the animal deaths were isolated to a few farms. "The 410 dead pigs found so far were raised by three pig farmers and other free-range farming households."

"The factory has been operating for more than 10 years and the foul air has always made the villagers furious and worried about their health," said doctor Kou.

A press officer surnamed Yuan with the Yanshi City Party Committee told the Global Times the investigation is ongoing.

Nearby factory owners have been told not to leave the area in case investigators need to question them.

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