Thirteen injured after chemical spill

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The Independent Online

Police have sealed off a chemical factory and parts of an industrial estate after 13 people were injured when a toxic cloud escaped from a tanker.

Police have sealed off a chemical factory and parts of an industrial estate after 13 people were injured when a toxic cloud escaped from a tanker.

Four people - two customers and two staff - have been taken to hospital after breathing in fumes at the plant in Widnes, Cheshire.

Five litres of hydrochloric acid were accidentally released into the air at 9.15am. A toxic cloud spread from Ellis and Everard Chemicals into the neighbouring Travis and Perkins building yard.

It was there that the injured were standing.

Police declared a serious incident and sealed off premises and the in the Hale Bank industrial park on Pickering Road.

The injured were taken to Whiston Hospital, Merseyside, with severe breathing difficulties. Their condition is not life-threatening.

A further nine people in the surrounding area were treated at the scene for the effects of inhaling the fumes.

No-one from the chemical firm nor the tanker driver was injured.

A Cheshire police spokesman said the tanker, owned by a separate company, had been "venting off" in the chemical yard when the accident happened.

He said the cloud had later dispersed and there was no further danger to the public.

But he added: "If however anyone can smell chlorine or begins to experience coughing or eye irritation they should seek medical advice."

A spokesman for Merseyside Ambulance Service said: "The 13 people had breathing difficulties but none of those are life-threatening."

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