MAKHACHKALA, Russia -- Dozens of residents in Russia's North Caucasus region of Daghestan have been hospitalized with signs of poisoning in the fourth such case since early January, raising questions about water quality in the region.
Daghestan's Health Ministry said on March 10 that 41 people from different parts of the region, including 32 children, were hospitalized in Daghestan's capital, Makhachkala, with symptoms consistent with poisoning, though it gave no further details.
Three similar mass poisoning cases this year were related to what was officially called "the low quality of tap water."
Last month, at least 89 residents of the village of Arani in central Daghestan were diagnosed with water poisoning.
In two similar cases in January, hundreds of people, including 200 children, were also diagnosed with poisoning from tap water and were treated at hospitals in the regional city of Buinaksk.
The chief of the Patient's Monitor social project, Zyautdin Uvaisov, told RFE/RL that the first unconfirmed reports of the mass poisoning brought "many years of the lack of quality control over drinking water" into focus.
"If the tap water's quality was evaluated in a timely manner and all necessary measures were enforced right after that, the situation would not be that critical," Uvaisov said, adding that many water pipes in Daghestan were built 50 years ago or more and are in need of repair or replacement.
The acting head of Daghestan, Sergei Melikov, said last month at a session of the Russian parliament’s upper chamber, the Federation Council, that the quality of life in Daghestan is "worrisome," stressing that water from irrigation systems is often used for drinking due to the lack of delivery systems for potable water.