Acid Burns Cyclone Victims
Discovery Online, Nov 15, 1999
Chemicals from tanks ruptured by India's Oct. 29 super cyclone have leaked into ponds used by storm survivors to wash in. Thousands of people are being treated for acid burns, relief workers reported Saturday.Disaster relief teams said that more than half the survivors in scores of communities along the country's eastern coast have developed infections, scarring, and dermatitis after having bathed in the black water.One official said the chemical contamination was spreading in a 25-mile radius from city of Kujang 200 miles south of Calcutta, and that immediate action was needed to keep it from polluting other water supplies.The acid and saline ponds have also had the effect of preserving the unattended bodies of those killed two weeks ago in the cyclone. Ram Narayan of the Orissa Disaster Mitigation Mission said, "The bodies have become like Egyptian mummies. They have stopped decomposing or stinking." Doctors treating the burn patients said the acid-related ailments were spreading rapidly. Many of the victims are also suffering from stomach problems caused by the contaminated water. The physicians do not have adequate medications to treat the acid burns.The revised death toll from the cyclone reached more than 9,400 during the weekend.