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Toxic Cloud Covers Brazil's Port of Santos After Chemical Explosion

© REUTERS / Paulo WhitakerSmoke rises from chemical containers from logistic company Localfrio in Guaruja, Brazil, January 14, 2016
Smoke rises from chemical containers from logistic company Localfrio in Guaruja, Brazil, January 14, 2016 - Sputnik International
An explosion at a warehouse rocked Brazil's Port of Santos, ejecting a column of toxic smoke, local media said.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — A cargo warehouse, located in the Guaruja area near Santos, Sao Paulo state, has exploded after a water leak caused a reaction with stored chemicals, Brazil's Veja magazine reported late Thursday.

Containers stored at the cargo terminal belonging to the Localfrio company contained hydrochloric acid and sodium dichloroisocyanurate, a disinfectant, Localfrio representatives said, according to the magazine.

A series of fires and explosions broke out after water reacted with the chemicals, causing a large toxic cloud to spread through the port area.

Firefighters have not gained complete control of the fire by nighttime, Guaruja's fire department said.

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Eye irritation and respiratory problems caused 51 people to be hospitalized, Guaruja City Hall said, according to the magazine. Local authorities evacuated the port and surrounding residential areas while urging others to stay inside.

Organic, inorganic and toxic substances caused eye irritation, throat, nausea and fainting, Guaruja's mayor stated. The State Dock Company of Sao Paulo suspended the port's operations, stopping ship movement as a precautionary measure.

Sodium dichloroisocyanurate is a highly toxic product, which acts as an irritant as well causing long-term environmental damage, particularly to aquatic life. The chemical is stored away from water and direct sunlight.

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