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Ecologist Links Fainting Spells To Kazakh Oil Field Gas Leak

BERYOZOVKA, Kazakhstan -- Dozens of residents of a village in western Kazakhstan have fainted in recent days, in what an environmental activist says may be the effect of a toxic gas leak from a big oil field 5 kilometers away.

Authorities say 43 people, most of them teenagers, have fainted for unexplained reasons between November 28 and December 4. Some of them were hospitalized.

On December 3, regional prosecutor Serik Qaramanov said that an accident at the Qarashyghanaq oil field several days ago caused a significant leak of highly toxic sulphureted hydrogen gas.

A local ecologist and consultant for regional NGO Crude Accountability, Sergei Solyanik, told RFE/RL that the fainting cases were probably caused by the gas leak.

He said local citizens have been urging officials since 2002 to relocate them.

Village governor Zhubanysh Khairullin and local doctors declined to comment to RFE/RL, saying a special commission is working on the situation.

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