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Poisonous cloud sparks mass evacuation after Kraft Foods leak in Germany (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

Published time: October 16, 2012 10:06
Edited time: October 18, 2012 02:32

Firefighters try to contain toxic gases with water at a plant of Kraft Foods in Bad Fallingbostel, northern Germany, on October 16, 2012. (AFP Photo/Ingo Wagner)

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Seven hundred firefighters are struggling to extinguish a blaze at a German Kraft Foods factory, hours after a chemical leak triggered a mass evacuation. One thousand eight hundred people were removed from the area.

­The incident happened in the small town of Bad Fallingbostel in the country’s north. Workers at the facility accidentally poured nitric acid into a tank, which contained sodium hydroxide, and caused a chemical reaction.

The nitrous gases which participated in the reaction are considered extremely dangerous if they come into contact with the human body.

About 250 factory employees were evacuated, along with 800 people living in the immediate vicinity. However, shortly afterwards, the risk zone was enlarged to around 500 meters in radius, and a further 1,000 people abandoned their homes.

Firefighters are trying to cool the container down, to avert an explosion and a critical spike in temperatures. After the firefighters tried for hours to tackle the situation, the situation worsened on Tuesday morning, the Berliner Post reported, with additional rescue teams called from nearby Hamburg.

News portal Thelocal.de said the witnesses likened the scene to a disaster movie, with hundreds of specialists working in protective suits. Their work was slow, spokesman for the regional fire brigade Stephen Meier said.

“We have to swap in the specialists every 20 minutes, and then we also need new protective suits, and they are running short,” he added.

Rescue teams have been pumping out the dangerous acid mixture, with the toxic cloud having been dispersed early in the morning.

All schools and kindergartens in the vicinity were shut down on Tuesday. Highway 7, which passes nearby, was blocked for safety reasons.

The aerial shows fire trucks standing on the premises of a Kraft Foods plant after a chemical accident in Bad Fallingbostel, Germany, on October 16, 2012. (AFP Photo/Carmen Jaspersen)
The aerial shows fire trucks standing on the premises of a Kraft Foods plant after a chemical accident in Bad Fallingbostel, Germany, on October 16, 2012. (AFP Photo/Carmen Jaspersen)
Reuters/Fabian Bimmer
Reuters/Fabian Bimmer
Soldiers of German army "Bundeswehr" take positions at a depot of German food company Kraft Foods after a chemical accident that resulted in a toxic gas cloud in Bad Fallingbostel, Lower Saxony, October 16, 2012. (Reuters/Fabian Bimmer)
Soldiers of German army "Bundeswehr" take positions at a depot of German food company Kraft Foods after a chemical accident that resulted in a toxic gas cloud in Bad Fallingbostel, Lower Saxony, October 16, 2012. (Reuters/Fabian Bimmer)
A woman rests after an accident at Kraft Foods in Bad Fallingbostel, northern Germany, on October 16, 2012. (AFP Photo/Ingo Wagner)
A woman rests after an accident at Kraft Foods in Bad Fallingbostel, northern Germany, on October 16, 2012. (AFP Photo/Ingo Wagner)
Evacuee sleep at a function room of the factory Kraft Foods after an accident at Kraft Foods in Bad Fallingbostel, northern Germany, on October 16, 2012. (AFP Photo/Ingo Wagner)
Evacuee sleep at a function room of the factory Kraft Foods after an accident at Kraft Foods in Bad Fallingbostel, northern Germany, on October 16, 2012. (AFP Photo/Ingo Wagner)
Still from AP video
Still from AP video
Still from AP video
Still from AP video
Still from AP video
Still from AP video

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