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Company manager detained in Hungarian sludge disaster

DEVECSER, Hungary — Hungarian police have detained the director of the aluminum company responsible for a flood of caustic red sludge that killed eight people when it burst from its reservoir last week, the prime minister said Monday.

Police said they were questioning managing director Zoltan Bakonyi on suspicion of public endangerment causing multiple deaths and environmental damage.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban told parliament that the government wanted to take over MAL Rt., the Hungarian Aluminum Production and Trade Co., because the safe restart of production at the alumina plant was needed to save the jobs of thousands of workers. Orban said his administration was also freezing the company's assets to ensure that funds were available to compensate for the damage.

Last week, Bakonyi said that MAL Rt. had not noticed anything irregular at the site.

Late Monday, parliament passed a proposal giving the government the power to take over any company involved in a catastrophe.

Company manager detained in Hungarian sludge disaster 10/11/10 [Last modified: Monday, October 11, 2010 11:53pm]

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