Chinese authorities say a chemical leak from a factory in central China has poisoned water supplies to several villages, sickening scores of people.
Local officials said Thursday that at least 26 villagers remain hospitalized in Hunan province's Chenxi county.
Authorities say the villagers were poisoned by sulfuric acid that leaked from a nearby factory into underground water supplies. Chinese media say hundreds of people have gone to hospitals to be checked for potential poisoning.
The Beijing News agency says the chemical leak first came to light in early December, when a retired coal miner in the area complained that his drinking water had turned yellow. It says an initial investigation by local authorities found the water safe to drink.
Beijing News says that 10 days later, villagers near the factory fell sick, prompting another investigation that found dangerous chemicals in the water, including arsenic.
Many rivers and lakes in China are toxic because of pollution caused by decades of rapid economic growth accompanied by little enforcement of environmental safety rules.