There were reports of a mass evacuation ordered of the city of Buenos Aires, after a chemical container exploded, covering the Argentinian capital with a huge toxic cloud. Apparently it wasn't that bad. (Updated).
The container was reportedly still engulfed in flames after the explosion and initial reports suggested that it was filled with either pesticide or mercury, both of which are dangerous commodities under such circumstances. A later report by Univision News on Twitter states that the chemical was a pesticide or insecticide.
The explosion occurred in the port of Buenos Aires and caused flights at the city's international airport to be suspended, and some metro lines also stopped operation.
Eyewitnesses downtown in Buenos Aires reported seeing clouds of noxious smoke and chaotic traffic in the streets.
However, local media state that there was no mass evacuation, and that people were merely asked to stay inside with their windows closed.
According to the Buenos Aires Herald, the national secretary for security, Sergio Berni confirmed that the fire has been put out and he made it clear that the chemical substances inside the container were of “little danger.”
According to local news agencies, a strong smell of rotten waste was reported in Congreso, Recoleta, Retiro, and Microcentro neighbourhoods from early on Thursday morning.
The Met Service (SMN) reported that the strong chemical smell was being spread across to the south of the city due to “strong south-easterly winds.”
Berni added that, “The situation is completely under control. What needs to be highlighted is the brave decision of the Federal Police, who risked their lives and opened the container, not knowing what was inside.”
Update:The latest news from media in Brazil is that the container was storing a pesticide called thiodicarb, which is apparently a product of “low toxicity.” Berni said that “The pesticide presents a low level of danger and affects the respiratory tract."
Gabriel Ive, National Director of Sanitary Emergency at the Health Ministry, said in a telephone interview that rains in the city on Thursday prevented the toxic cloud from expanding. However, he did say that people who have been in contact with the rain should wash their clothing.
Ive said, “There has been an increase in the number of people who went to hospitals suffering from the symptoms. None of them have been of severity.”