- Title: IVORY COAST: Ivorian mob turns on top officials in waste protest
- Date: 17th September 2006
- Summary: (BN13) COCODY RIVIERA DISTRICT, ABIDJAN, IVORY COAST (SEPTEMBER 15, 2006) (REUTERS) CHILDREN BURNING TYRES VARIOUS OF PEOPLE AT A BARRICADE STOPPING PEOPLE (SOUNDBITE) (French) SYLVIE YAHVO, LOCAL RESIDENT, SAYING: "We are tired, yesterday they told us on TV that they caught the people who have dumped the toxic waste. But today they came again to dump more toxic waste in front of our gate. We have children, what can we do, how are we going to breathe?" STREET WITH FIRE SEEN FROM BURNING TYRES VARIOUS OF PEOPLE LEAVING WITH THEIR LUGGAGE FROM THE AREA AFFECTED BY THE TOXIC FUMES (SOUNDBITE) (French) RACHEL THEMA, LOCAL RESIDENT, SAYING: "I couldn't breathe, I felt like I was going to fall down and faint in the shower, so truly I can't stay in this area anymore. I'm going to go to Yopougon to my parents' place, and later we will see if we need to leave Abidjan." PEOPLE WALKING COVERING THEIR NOSES SMOKE RISING BEHIND PEOPLE PEOPLE GOING THROUGH BARRIER, WITH SMOKE AND FIRE SEEN
- Embargoed: 2nd October 2006 13:00
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA6UJR1GOR1BWQ9C64UIS65BR7E
- Story Text: Protesters in Ivory Coast attacked and beat up a minister and burned down the home of the director of Abidjan port on Friday (September 15) as public anger erupted over the dumping of deadly toxic waste in the lagoon-side city.
The enraged mob carried out the attacks in Abidjan's Riviera II residential district, not far from the U.S. embassy, as the number of deaths caused by the poisonous black sludge deposited around the city rose to seven, four of them children.
Around 30,000 people have sought treatment at hospitals for vomiting, stomach pains, nausea, breathing difficulties, nosebleeds and migraines, health officials said. Authorities announced a clean-up operation would begin Sunday.
Public outcry over the waste scandal, which has rocked the economic capital of the world's top cocoa grower, forced the resignation of the government of the war-divided West African state last week. Residents have accused the authorities of being slow to act and of not providing enough information.
"We are tired, yesterday they told us on TV that they caught the people who have dumped the toxic waste. But today they came again to dump more toxic waste in front of our gate. We have children, what can we do, how are we going to breathe?" said Sylvie Yahvo, a resident of Cocody riviera.
The UN children's agency UNICEF noted that some dump sites have not been fully secured, and children were still going into them to play.
"I couldn't breathe, I felt like I was going to fall down and faint in the shower, so truly I can't stay in this area anymore. I'm going to go to Yopougon to my parents' place, and later we will see if we need to leave Abidjan," said Rachel Thema, another local resident.
The scandal has triggered an international investigation into the origin of the toxic slops, which were unloaded at Abidjan last month by a Panamanian ship chartered by a leading world commodity trader, Dutch-based Trafigura Beheer BV.
In Friday's attacks, the crowd dragged Transport Minister Innocent Kobenan Anaky from his car and beat him up.
The mob also broke into the Riviera II home of the director of Abidjan's port, Marcel Gossio, who has been suspended from his post under the investigation into how the waste was unloaded and dumped, an assistant said.
The surprise resignation of Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny's cabinet injected more uncertainty into an already tangled political outlook for Ivory Coast, which has been split in two since a brief 2002-2003 civil war.
Other parts of the city were calm, but fears of the effects of the noxious waste's fumes were still running high and Riviera II residents complained of smelling a foul, stinging odour.
Banny said late on Thursday (September 14) a French company, Tredi International, would begin to remove the waste from Sunday and the government was working to have it sent abroad. He said it was "not necessary" to reveal its chemical composition.
But foreign experts brought in to test the viscous substance said it appeared to contain hydrogen sulphide, which can be deadly in high concentrations.
Ivorian authorities have arrested seven Ivorians and one Nigerian in connection with the dumping of the waste in open-air sites around the city.
Dutch-based Trafigura has said it chartered the ship which unloaded the waste. It described the substance unloaded as slops, a "mixture of gasoline, water and caustic washings".
The company has said it advised the Ivorian authorities that the slops needed to be disposed of correctly.
Banny said tap water remained safe to drink. But fishing had been banned in the Abidjan lagoon and livestock near the sites where the black sludge was dumped were being observed.
Market gardens near the sites would be destroyed and compensation paid, Banny said.
RIOTS CIVIL UNREST
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