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378 Peruvian workers sickened by pesticide

From Nelson Quinones, CNN
October 18, 2012 -- Updated 0057 GMT (0857 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Hundreds of farm workers became sick after inhaling a pesticide, officials say
  • The pesticide had been sprayed at an adjacent property
  • Most have been released from the hospital

(CNN) -- Hundreds of Peruvian farm workers, the majority of them women, became sick after inhaling a pesticide sprayed on a nearby field, the state-run Andina news agency reported.

The chemical intoxicated at least 378 people, who overran the local hospitals in Ica, a city 200 miles south of Lima.

Patients were being treated in the hallways of a hospital, and suffered symptoms including vomiting, dizziness, and pain, CNN affiliate America TV reported. Two of the women are pregnant.

The national police and the prosecutor's office are investigating the incident, Andina reported.

The farm workers became sick early Tuesday, after about 500 employees arrived at the farm. Hours before they got there, the adjacent land was sprayed with an insecticide for plants, according to local reports.

Most of the patients were discharged from the hospital Tuesday night after receiving treatment, according to Leon Enrique Castaneda, manager of the Ica Assistance Network. The timely response to get those affected to the hospital kept the situation under control, officials said.

The farm, the Beta Agroindustrial Complex, grows and packages fresh produce such as asparagus, citrus and grapes. The company exports their products around the world.

Photos: A toxic tragedy in India

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