Sludge flood - Government to set up disaster fund
<p>Budapest, October 9 (MTI) - The government has decided to set up a fund to help victims of the toxic sludge disaster in western Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told reporters in Budapest on Saturday.</p>
"The government will leave nobody without assistance" in "Hungary s greatest ecological catastrophe," Orban said, and called on people both in Hungary and in other countries to contribute to the fund.
"We hope that funds collected will help revive the devastated area. The fund will be instrumental in providing increased assistance to those who...have lost their homes and want to start a new life elsewhere," the prime minister said. He added that cooperation and helping each other was a cardinal element of the government s initiative, saying the disaster impacted "the whole of Hungary, and all Hungarians wherever they may live in the world."
Orban said that the government had asked George Pataki, former governor of New York State, to help coordinate assistance from the US.
The prime minister warned that the danger was not over and said that the dams of the reservoir were further deteriorating. He said that if another rupture was to happen, there was no technical solution to stop the process; preparations can only be made to mitigate the effects.
People that do not want to return to their former homes will be provided with a flat or a house in an unaffected part of their town or elsewhere in the country, Orban said.
The prime minister said that the people responsible for the disaster must be identified and their punishment should be in proportion with the damage.
Concerning alumina company MAL, the owner of the ruptured reservoir, whose operations have been suspended, Orban said that the government must make a "clever" decision, one that would retain some 3,000 jobs but which would also ensure that another disaster does not occur. He added that "those who have caused the disaster cannot be entrusted with preserving those jobs."
The prime minister also announced that the government would meet on Sunday.