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Kyrgyzstan Cyanide Spill Kills 1

June 3, 1998 GMT

MOSCOW (AP) _ A sodium cyanide spill that sickened 600 people and polluted a massive lake in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan claimed its first fatality on Wednesday, officials said.

The woman, whose identity wasn’t given, died in a hospital in the town of Karakol near Lake Issyk Kul, one of the largest bodies of water in Central Asia, the Interfax news agency reported.

Interfax quoted doctors as saying she died of sodium cyanide poisoning that aggravated a previous illness.

Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev discussed the spill Wednesday with Michel Bernard, the visiting chief of Canada’s Cameco company, which operates the gold mine for which the cyanide was headed May 20. An estimated 3,400 pounds of sodium cyanide seeped into a river leading to the lake.

Bernard insisted Wednesday the spill posed no serious threat to public health, Interfax said.