At least 52 villagers in North Sumatra's Mandailing Natal Regency, including children, were hospitalized with suspected hydrogen sulfide poisoning. The toxic gas is believed to have come from a nearby power plant.
Police said 12 out of the 52 victims are children, including three infants. They reportedly suffered from severe nausea and vomiting because of the gas, which is known to smell like rotten eggs.
"The suspicion is that this is a case of [mass] hydrogen sulfide poisoning after PT SGMP carried out a well test at the well pad," Mandailing Natal Police Chief Reza Akbar said today, referring to geothermal drilling activities carried out by PT Sorik Marapi Geothermal Power.
The drilling was reportedly carried out at around 3pm yesterday, at a well pad around 300 meters away from Sibanggor Julu Village. Toxic gas coming out from the wells was then blown towards the village.
By around 4:30pm, dozens of villagers were rushed to nearby hospitals after experiencing nausea and vomiting en masse.
Police say there were no fatal casualties from the incident. An investigation is underway to determine PT SGMP's culpability. The firm says its equipments did not detect the presence of hydrogen sulfide at the project site yesterday.
On Jan. 25, 2021, toxic gas from the construction of PT SGMP's geothermal plant at the site reportedly killed five people and hospitalized dozens. The plant has since been allowed to commence its operations.