Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-05-16 05:19 PM
The news came as hundreds of Taiwanese citizens left the communist country after days of looting and rioting targeting foreign, mostly Taiwanese, factories. The outbreak of violence came after China insisted on operating an oil drilling tower in disputed waters.
A total of 735 employees at a plant operated by Taiwan’s Hung Fu Shoes in Thanh Hoa Province fell ill after drinking water at the factory, according to the website of Vietnam’s Thanh Nien newspaper.
The incident happened Thursday morning, when some workers said they felt a severe itch in their throat 15 minutes after drinking the water. Soon after, they felt uncomfortable and had to vomit, while some of them even lost consciousness, reports said.
Between 9 a.m. and noon, an estimated 735 staff were transferred to various hospitals in the area, but by the evening most of them were allowed to return home. The outbreak led to the mobilization of dozens of ambulances and to overcrowding at several hospitals in Thanh Hoa Province, with patients lying in hallways to wait for treatment.
However, in reports quoted by the Liberty Times Friday evening, three people had died and the factory premises had been sealed off while the investigation continued.
Provincial health authorities said that checks of the companies’ water did not reveal any toxic substances or pollution by heavy metals.
Thanh Nien quoted an employee surnamed Nguyen as saying that all the water had been provided by the factory and that no problem had ever occurred before.
The Hung Fu plant was opened in 2011 and counted about 10,000 employees, reports said. That year, there was reportedly a food poisoning incident at the company restaurant.
However, in later reports, the company’s Taiwan headquarters denied the incident. All of its three factories in Vietnam had been closed for three days, and the one in Thanh Hoa did not bear the Hung Fu name, officials said.
Thanh Hoa Province lies on the coast in the northern part of Vietnam, a long way from the areas in Southern Vietnam where hundreds of Taiwanese businesses were attacked or looted over the past few days.