Hundreds of Kenyans have fallen ill after a chemical consignment was dumped on the roadside near the port city of Mombasa, officials told AFP Thursday.
According to a local official, up to 1,500 people have sought treatment at local hospitals, complaining mainly of chest pains and respiratory problems they believe were caused by the leaking container.
"Due to the high number of people registering at the municipal hospitals, we have ordered the importer to appear before the Mombasa municipal council so that the people who have suffered from the acid can be compensated," said Nasser Rashed, in charge of the environment at the council.
He stressed that many more people in the Kipevu area may have been affected but had not sought help from the local facilities.
According to local officials and witnesses, the substance is believed to consist mainly of nitric acid and was imported by Kasese Cobalt, a Ugandan company.
"The matter is under investigation, we are still trying to figure out exactly who is responsible... We are also awaiting laboratory results," said Mabrouk Juma, the local MP's top aide.
He told AFP that the authorities had urged the population not to approach the site where the chemical product was dumped and added that the container had now been removed.