May 23, 2008

54 sickened at hospital after farmer's chemical-fuelled vomit generates toxic gas

Another suicide case in Japan.

KUMAMOTO -- Fifty-four people were sickened at a hospital here after inhaling toxic gas from the vomit of a man who had apparently swallowed an agricultural chemical to kill himself, police and hospital officials said.

The 34-year-old farmer was admitted to Kumamoto Red Cross Hospital in Kumamoto at around 10:50 p.m. on Wednesday after apparently swallowing an agricultural chemical to commit suicide.

He vomited while undergoing treatment, generating toxic chlorine gas, and died shortly afterward.

A total of 54 people near him, including doctors and patients, fell ill. Of them, 10 were admitted to hospitals including the Red Cross Hospital, while the 44 others who were not in serious condition are steadily recovering.

A bottle of chloropicrin, an agricultural chemical that is legally designated as a poisonous substance, was found at his home in Koshi, Kumamoto Prefecture. Investigators suspect that he swallowed the chemical to kill himself.

Firefighters clad in protective gar took three hours to neutralize the gas from 11:50 p.m.