Sunday, 04 November 2007
By Adel Al-Malki
JEDDAH - Police are investigating a huge fire that broke out in the waste dump yard in the eastern part of the city on Friday.
Some of the residents were detained and released after interrogation.
On Friday, a huge fire was reported in the garbage dump area. According to African scavengers, fires were intentionally started. Khaled Aqeel, the Undersecretary of Services at the Jeddah Municipality, said the fire started at four different sites in the garbage yard.
Dark toxic smoke blanketed many parts of the city, causing breathing trouble to residents in Al-Ajwad and Al-Samer districts.
"Onlookers blocked the Civil Defense trucks from getting closer to the fire," Aqeel added.
According to medical sources at the health center in Umm Al-Slam District, 7,000 patients suffering from chest and nose allergy have visited the center in six months, 70 percent of them were children.
Dr Muhammed Yahia, Director of Al-Azizyia Hospital, said toxic gasses coming from the waste cause most of the respiratory tract diseases, eye infection and sinusitis.
Dr. Nasruldean Al-Sharif, a pediatrician, said weak immunity of the children make them susceptible to bronchial diseases.
More than a thousand scavengers sift through the dump on a daily basis, looking for metals that they can melt by starting fires. One example is the burning of insulated copper wiring to remove the plastic.
Jeddah Mayor Adel Faqeeh discussed with the director of the Jeddah police ways of protecting the garbage yard from scavengers and a plan to organize security patrols around the area.
"The municipality has also sought the help of private security companies to monitor the location," Aqeel said.
Aqeel announced that the municipality will impose a fine on all hardware merchants who buy cheaper metal from the site.