Contaminated tap water kills five in Manila

Five people have died and more than 500 city residents have been rushed to various hospitals in Manila since last week after taking sewage-contaminated tap water as local authorities and the national government take steps to arrest an outbreak of water-borne disease in the capital.

Health Secretary Manuel Dayrit said the contagion has mainly been confined to Tondo, an old district where most of the waterlines are already antiquated and located in sewer passageways.

He said investigations carried out by the city's privately-owned water utility, Maynilad Water Service Inc., point to the possibility that sewage water has made its way into the tap waterlines through holes in the rusty pipes and through unregistered connections.

Dayrit said human waste containing the E. coli, salmonella and vibrio cholera bacteria have penetrated the water pipelines.

"It is an outbreak most probably due to sewage contamination of the water lines but it has been already contained. The only affected area is Tondo. It has not spread to nearby areas," Dayrit said in a statement.

The outbreak of gastroenteritis and cholera had downed at least 559 people in Tondo since last week, the health department said. Rafael Alunan III, president of Maynilad Water Services Inc., said that at least 285 leaks were found in the area.

These leaks may also have been caused the use of booster pumps. A law prohibits the use of booster pumps, but it is poorly enforced.

Maynilad has written to Manila Mayor Lito Atienza to take action on the government-owned pipelines.

It also sought the help of the Western Police District in arresting people who use booster pumps.

A water-refilling station in Tondo was closed down after the Department of Health and the Manila Health Department found that it sold contaminated water.

07/11/2003

Bron : Gulf News

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