The reservoir of an alumina plant in western Hungary burst on Monday, flooding several towns with towering waves of red sludge. Two people died, seven were missing and several dozen were injured, rescue services said.
The spill of an estimated 600,000-700,000 cubic meters (yards) of sludge affected seven localities near the Ajkai Timfoldgyar plant in the town of Ajka, 160 kilometers (100 miles) southwest of Budapest, the capital.
In Devecser, the sludge flooded some 400 homes, and 40 people had to be rescued in the neighboring town of Somlovasarhely. In Kolontar, the rushing sludge reached a height of two meters (6.5 feet), The Associated Press reports.
Kolontar Mayor Karoly Tily told the state newswire MTI that all four victims were Kolontar residents and rescue workers are still searching for another four people who are reported missing.
Between 80 and 90 people have been taken to hospital with chemical burns to skin and eyes, including six who were seriously injured. The Hungarian National Disaster Management Directorate said the caustic sludge, a waste product in aluminum production, contains heavy metals and is toxic if ingested.
The incident occurred at the Ajkai Timfoldgyar plant owned by MAL Magyar Aluminium in the town of Ajka, 160 kilometers (100 miles) southwest of the capital, Budapest, Environment News Service reports.