Cyanide spill wreaks havocThursday, 10 February, 2000
Romania and Hungary will seek compensation and international help to cope with the consequences of a ecological disaster affecting both countries.
Several rivers in the region were contaminated with cyanide which spilled from a Romanian gold mine 10 days ago.
Reports from Serbia also confirm that the first traces of cyanide have been detected in the River Tisza after crossing the border from Hungary.
Fish stocks have been devastated by the spill and the cyanide is now threatening drinking water supplies.
The environment ministers of both countries met in the northern Romanian city of Oradea, 200 miles west of Bucharest, where the spillage occurred.
They agreed to set up a joint committee to monitor the ecological impact of the disaster.
They will also seek compensation from the Esmeralda Exploration - the Australian firm which owns 55% of the mine.
The remaining 45% is owned by the Romanian Government.
The company, however, has denied responsibility and says reports of an ecological catastrophe are exaggerated.
The mine has been closed temporarily by the authorities pending the results of an investigation.
Cyanide poisoning continues to affect at least three rivers in the region, causing huge damge to fish and other river life.
The Tisza was the most badly affected of all rivers in the area.
On some stretches, huge numbers of dead fish have been hauled out of the river.
The danger is now extending to river birds and other animals which normally feed on the fish.