Dead fish, choking smoke: Collateral damage piles up from burnt Durban factory

Dead fish, choking smoke: Collateral damage piles up from burnt Durban factory

The UPL Chemical Plant in Cornubia in Durban continues to billow massive clouds of smoke a week after it was set alight. 

UPL Chemical Plant in Cornubia burning factory Durban SA Unrest 2
Nokukhanya N Mntambo

The factory was torched at the height of unrest in KwaZulu-Natal.

Firefighters have since put out the flames from the agricultural plant but its chemicals have spilt out into the nearby rivers.

The Umhlanga and Umdloti rivers are now collateral damage from the looting sprees and violence that gripped parts of the country last week. 

Netcare 911 spokesperson Shawn Herbst says the toxic spillage into the rivers has proved deadly for some marine life. 

“If you have a look at it, majority of the building has been completely destroyed, the other one-quarter and the contents have been contaminated by chemicals

“The fire department was on scene and they’ve tried their best to contain the fire which largely has spilt out into surrounding Umhlanga Rivera and the Umdloti River and contaminated the area. We’ve found a lot of dead fish.

READ: Durban chemical spill: Residents must not pick up dead fish

“The fire itself has been doused but there are a lot of chemicals still smouldering.”

Specialist Hazmat teams are monitoring the building.

“They have contained the spillage but they are still working on controlling the smouldering that’s coming out of the building,” Herbst adds.

Against the backdrop of clear blue skies, a haze of smoke from the factory can be seen in some parts of the city.

Residents in the nearby neighbourhoods are also having a tough time breathing the heavily polluted air. 

Officials estimate it will take another three days to get a handle on the situation.

Despite the structural damage, no fatalities have been recovered from the rubble. 

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