The Da Nang General Hospital yesterday afternoon received 22 gold miners from Quang Nam Province with the associated symptoms of cyanide poisoning such as hard breathing, fits of convulsions, chest tightness, and faint.
The patients, aged 17-27 and ethnic minority people from Nghe An Province, suffered these conditions while working at a gold mining site operated by Phuong Minh Co., Ltd. on a mountain in Kham Duc Town, Phuoc Son District, Quang Nam Province.
After being treated, the miners, who said they have worked for the company for several months, no longer display any of the symptoms although their strength is still weak and their legs remain swollen, doctors said.
“It is very likely that we were poisoned by using water from the stream on the site or by being exposed to the smell of cyanide that is used in mining. Luckily we were hospitalized in time or we may have died,” VnExpress quoted one of the patients as saying.
According to the doctors, the workers could have been poisoned with cyanide – an extreme toxic substance that is used in metal plating or gold mining.
Workers with symptoms associated with cyanide poisoning being treated at the Da Nang General Hospital (Photo: VnExpress)
“Cyanide can penetrate the human body through the digestive system when people eat food or drink water infected with the substance, or through the respiratory system when people inhale the air containing evaporated cyanide, or through the skin,” Dr Tran Ba Thoai, of the Hoan My Hospital in Da Nang, said.
Once in the body, cyanide will connect with the Fe2+ radical of an enzyme named cytochrome oxidase to cause difficulty of breathing, leading to suffocation, the doctor said.
Cyanide prevents the cells of an organism from using oxygen, primarily through the inhibition of cytochrome oxidase. Inhalation of high concentrations of cyanide can bring about a coma, often with seizures, apnea, and cardiac arrest, with death following in a matter of minutes, according to some medical websites.