Five people die after inhaling toxic gas at Sicily’s water treatment plant

Five workers died Monday afternoon while working in a sewer system connected to a water treatment plant in the town of Castelldaccia, near Palermo, Sicily, according to firefighters who recovered the bodies. A sixth worker was seriously injured and is in intensive care, local officials said.

Palermo fire chief Girolamo Bentivoglio said the workers had inhaled hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide is a toxic gas often present in waste treatment facilities and in high concentrations. Levels at the sites where workers were killed were so high that “instant death occurs,” Bentivoglio said in a television interview with state-run news channel RaiNews24.

The incident sparked fresh outrage over workplace fatalities in Italy. In April, seven workers were killed in an explosion at a hydroelectric power plant near Bologna, and in February, five people were killed while building a supermarket in Florence.

According to the European Statistical Office eurostatItaly ranks eighth among European countries for fatal accidents at work, with an incidence of 2.66 per 100,000 employees, higher than the European Union average of 1.76, but 3.32 per 100,000 employees. lower than.

“If they had taken all the precautions, all the safety measures, including personal protective equipment, we wouldn’t be facing this scenario,” Bentivoglio said.

According to Ineilthere were 191 work-related fatalities in the first three months of 2024, according to the National Institute of Occupational Accident Insurance.

“The Castelldaccia tragedy echoes a pattern that has repeated itself too often in recent months,” the leaders of Sicily’s three trade unions said in a joint statement. Italian news agency reported.

The union said the cause of the accident needed to be examined, as well as questions about the liability of the companies involved and whether safety regulations were complied with.

They added that workplace safety monitoring offices remain understaffed while workplace fatalities continue.

“Sicily once again mourns a workplace death,” they wrote.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni called out in a post on social network X:perfect light shining down About this tragedy. ”

According to a report by Italian news agency ANSA, Italian President Sergio Mattarella said that “this latest unacceptable workplace massacre” serves to underline once again the need for a common effort involving trade unions, entrepreneurs and organizations. He said he was sure it would work.

The five workers who died on Monday were performing the following tasks: mapmanages comprehensive water services, including residential water purification and distribution, as well as wastewater treatment, for the city of Palermo and smaller municipalities concentrated around the Sicilian capital. Only one of the five employees was an Amap employee. The others worked for companies that subcontracted the work, Italian news media said.

Castelldaccia Mayor Giovanni Di Giacinto said in a telephone interview that an investigation into the accident was underway. “This is an unfathomable tragedy,” he said.

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