KUALA LUMPUR, March 7 (Xinhua) — Authorities in Malaysia’s southern Johor state were forced to evacuate over 1,000 people, mostly school students, on Thursday after chemicals were illegally dumped in a river near two schools.
Johor Fire and Rescue department said in a statement that it received an emergency call from the Pasir Gudang district early on Thursday.
Four teams, with a hazardous material team, assisted by the Pasir Gudang fire station rushed to the location immediately after receiving the distress call regarding a strong smell, suspected to be chemicals, where the schools are located.
“Checks showed the presence of methane gas. An evacuation of the area was ordered, 500m from the site, including the two schools which have 1,400 students and teachers,” the statement said.
Johor Health, Environment and Agriculture Committee chairman Sahruddin Jamal told state news agency Bernama that 28 people were reported to have fallen ill after being exposed to the gas.
Sahruddin said they comprised students and canteen workers aged between seven and 40, and were being treated at two hospitals and a clinic.
“The situation is under control and the smell of gas is less,” he said.
Sahruddin added that authorities have taken samples from the site and said the chemical was dumped by irresponsible parties, where a bridge is being constructed.