Sun, May 18, 2014 - Page 3 News List

ANTI-CHINA PROTESTS: More than 700 reportedly poisoned at shoe factory

Staff writer, with CNA

Over 700 workers at a Taiwanese-invested shoe factory in central Vietnam’s Thanh Hoa city were hospitalized on Thursday for poisoning, after drinking water at their firm, Vietnamese media outlets reported.

About 15 minutes after drinking water from dispensers at the the Hong Fu Vietnam Footwear Co factory before starting work in the early morning, many workers reportedly came down with symptoms of poisoning, such as dizziness, foaming at the mouth, vomiting and fainting, a VietNamNet Bridge newspaper English-language report said.

Dozens of ambulances were sent to the factory to take workers to hospitals. Between 9am and noon, about 735 staff were transferred to various hospitals in the area, according to the Web site of Vietnam’s Thanh Nien newspaper.

All hospitals in Thanh Hoa were quickly overloaded. The Hop Luc Hospital alone received up to 500 people. The lobby of its first floor and hallways were filled with patients’ beds.

By the evening, most of the patients had recovered and returned home and no deaths have been reported, said Do Quang Vinh, deputy director of Thanh Hoa’s Department of Health, online news site reported on Friday.

Provincial health authorities said that an inspection of the companies’ water did not reveal any toxic substances or pollution by heavy metals, the paper said.

It quoted an employee surnamed Nguyen as saying that all the water had been provided by the factory and that no problem had occurred in the past.

Following an initial investigation, local police determined that the incident may have been caused by mass poisoning.

The incident occurred as anti-China sentiment runs high in Vietnam, with many Vietnamese people participating in protests against Beijing’s deployment of an oil rig in disputed waters in the South China Sea.

More than 100 Taiwanese businesses have been damaged by protesters who targeted any company that had Chinese words in its signs, making no distinction between Chinese and Taiwanese companies.

Hong Fu Vietnam is a Vietnamese-Taiwanese joint venture that began operations in 2011, employing about 10,000 workers.

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