DeLillo-esque toxic cloud engulfs Buenos Aires

A fire in the city's port left pedestrians tearing, vomiting and scrambling for cover

Topics: Big story you missed, Argentina, Don DeLillo, White Noise, San Francisco Chronicle,

DeLillo-esque toxic cloud engulfs Buenos Aires

In a scene out of “White Noise,” an ominous cloud descended on downtown Buenos Aires today after a fire broke out in a chemical-laced container at the city’s port. The flames were quickly extinguished, but not before their sulfurous fumes ground subway systems to a halt and left microcentro pedestrians tearing, vomiting and reaching for makeshift masks.

Originally reported to be mercury, the container’s contents are believed to be thiodarb, a pesticide that Argentina’s National Security Secretary Sergio Berni told reporters presented low levels of danger. “There has been an increase in the number of people who went to hospitals suffering from symptoms,” said Gabriel Ive, the national director of sanitary emergency at the Health ministry, in a phone interview with the San Francisco Chronicle. “None of them have been of severity.”

Meanwhile, the Buenos Aires stock exchange took its biggest tumble in two weeks in the wake of the “airborne toxic event.”

Jacob Sugarman is Salon's cover editor and the editor of Open Salon. You can follow him on twitter @jakesugarman.

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