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Twelve Teenagers Fall Ill In Afflicted Kazakh Village

BERYOZOVKA, Kazakhstan -- Twelve teenagers have required medical assistance after they fell unwell in a Kazakh village where many residents have experienced fainting spells and other symptoms in recent months.

The principal of the school in Beryozovka, Nursulu Qalieva, told RFE/RL that the teenagers were brought to a clinic on January 21.

One of them, 17-year-old Dinara Ermekbaeva, was later rushed unconscious to a larger hospital in Aqsai, the seat of a district in western Kazakhstan.

Some 90 of Beryozovka's 1,300 residents, mainly teenagers, have fainted for unexplained reasons since November 28.

Residents and local environmentalists say the fainting spells are caused by a toxic gas from a nearby oil and gas field. They have urged the authorities to relocate them.

On January 20, Kazakh Deputy Energy Minister Uzaqbai Qarabalin said the residents will not be relocated as Beryozovka was not located close enough to the field to qualify for the status of an "ecological disaster zone."