An alarming sight but ‘don’t panic’ is the message from Russian authorities as they battle to contain the effects of a toxic spill. The brown-yellow cloud billowed over the city of Chelyabinsk after some 50 litres of the chemical bromine were spilled in a minor rail collision.
Close to 150 people are reported to have sought medical help, complaining of various health problems. The poisonous bromine can damage internal organs and the nervous system.
Seeking to allay concerns, officials said the substance is used for medical purposes, and that, while it may exacerbate some existing health problems, the city’s population was not in danger.
But with masked police cordoning off the affected area, it appeared local people were leaving little to chance. Many were seen wearing their own protective masks.