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Police Fire Teargas To Break Toxic Waste Demo

File photo: Ivory Coast residents protest against the dumping of toxic waste. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Staff Writers
Abidjan (AFP) Nov 20, 2006
Police in Ivory Coast fired tear gas Monday to break up a protest by scores of port workers and youths loyal to President Laurent Gbagbo over the suspension of the head of the Abidjan Port Authority. One policeman was wounded by stones hurled by the demonstrators while about 10 people, most of them militant Young Patriots, were arrested, an AFP reporter witnessed.

Police removed barricades of wood and stones that had been mounted at the main entrance to the port in the Ivorian economic capital, one of the biggest in west Africa.

The demostrators said they wanted the reinstatement of Marcel Gossio, the director of Abidjan Port Authority, who was suspended two months ago after toxic waste was discharged from a ship then dumped in the economic capital, causing at least 10 deaths.

"We demand the reinstatement of Mr Gossio and the immediate publication of the results of investigations carried out by the government on the toxic waste issue," the spokesman for the port workers, Narcisse N'Depo, told AFP. Gossio's suspension was extended by a further three months last Thursday by the port's board of directors.

A close ally of Gbagbo and a member of his Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) party, Gossio was suspended from duty in September by Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny pending the completion of the probe. A national commission of inquiry into the toxic waste scandal said Monday it had competed its work and handed over the report to Banny.

On November 9, the Ivory Coast justice ministry said it had charged 18 people in connection with the toxic waste scandal which poisoned hundreds of people, 10 of them to death.

Gossio is not among those charged.

Hundreds of tons of petroleum toxic waste from a ship chartered by a European company were dumped illicitly across more than a dozen open-air rubbish tips around Abidjan in August.

The toxic sludge was dumped in mid-August by Ivorian firm Tommy.

The waste gave out fumes that poisoned thousands of inhabitants of Abidjan resulting in at least 10 deaths and the hospitalisation of 69 other people. Doctors reportedly received more than 100,000 calls for medical help.

The waste has been excavated and shipped out for incineration in France.

Victims of the pollution have brought a lawsuit in the Netherlands against Swiss-based multinational Trafigura, which chartered the vessel that offloaded the waste in Ivory Coast.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Kolkata (AFP) India, Nov 17, 2006
Hindus in eastern India Friday started more than a thousand fires in a mass ancient ritual that organisers said would help "fight diseases", but activists warned of environmental damage. Hundreds of priests chanted verses from Hindu scriptures and tonnes of wood and herbs were poured into more than a thousand pits for the mass "yagna" or a fire ceremony to please gods on the outskirts of eastern Kolkata city.

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