Maputo — A suspected gas leak on Monday at the "Darling" factory, producing beauty products, at Beluluane, on the outskirts of Maputo, led to the treatment of 72 workers for poisoning by inhalation.
Of the workers rushed to the Maputo Provincial Hospital, in Matola, 71 were women, including eight pregnant women.
The hospital director, Artur Machava, confirmed that the hospital received 72 people. "They were complaining of breathing difficulties, they were wheezing, and some of them were suffering from headaches", he added. "They said they had inhaled a gas, and they don't know what it was".
The medical diagnosis was indeed poisoning by gas, but Machava told AIM it was very difficult to identify the gas. He hoped a visit to the factory would help explain what the poisoning agent was.
None of those who inhaled the gas was in danger. Machava said that by Monday evening they had all been discharged. "We didn't detect any serious cases of poisoning, even among the pregnant women", he added.
The General Inspectorate of Labour (IGT) is now investigating the case, and the IGT Chief Inspector in Maputo, Figueiredo Langa, said the investigation should also tackle the question of why cases of workers fainting are frequently reported at "Darling".
If any negligence on the part of employers was detected, then measures would be taken against the company.
Claims had been made that workers collapse because of bad smells from a nearby factory, but the IGT is sceptical. "Darling is not the only company working there", said Langa, "but this phenomenon only occurs at Darling".
This is the second case of mass poisoning at Darling. In November 2018, 132 workers fell ill, with symptoms of poisoning, and were treated in the Provincial Hospital and other nearby health units.