2004 Tsunami aid workers sick
European papers are reporting that aid workers sent to Thailand in 2004 to help victims of the massive tsunami that affected the area are suffering from respiratory problems believed to be related to inhaling disinfectants. Newspaper Aftenposten reported that as many as 30 percent of forensic specialists and others sent to identify bodies are now suffering asthma-like ailments.
Several of the more than 100 Norwegians who helped identify tsunami victims in Thailand in 2004 have since fallen ill. They're suffering respiratory problems linked to disinfectants that were sprayed on both corpses and themselves.
Seven of 10 Swedish workers who also have fallen ill already have been diagnosed with problems related to the chemicals sprayed on the corpses and the workers to prevent spread of disease.
"I must admit that I was puzzled by the substances sprayed on us," Dr Torleiv Ole Rognum told Aftenposten. He was among the scores of medical staff who traveled to Thailand after the tsunami struck just after Christmas in 2004.
"I could feel that it irritated my throat," Rognum said, adding that neither he nor his colleagues knew what they were being sprayed with. "It wasn't easy to get any information on the contents."
He and another doctor, Vidar Skaug, have contacted investigators at state police agency Kripos and asked them to contact everyone who worked in the area. Around 11 of the 35 who have responded so far confirm various ailments, including "unidentified respiratory problems."