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A state government official arrived on the scene, declaring that "the death of even one child is a tragedy." He handed out baseball hats supporting the re-election campaign of the state governor.
Five villages known to have also been contaminated have yet to see any cleanup. In Dareta, it will take time to properly scrape away the contaminated dirt across an estimated 26 sites where villagers broke up the lead-ridden ore.
Environmental activist Nnimmo Bassey said it will take a week for a team of experts from his Nigeria-based Environmental Rights Action to assess the extent of the contamination.
"If it was just the soil that the miners took away, that could be contained and carried away," he said in a phone interview from Pretoria, South Africa.
But he emphasized that if water sources have also been affected "it will take years to clean up."
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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