Up to 500 people were poisoned in the Syrian gas outrage that killed 43 people including children, the World Health Organisation has revealed.
WHO demanded ‘immediate’ access to the victims in rebel-held Douma as it revealed the total number of people who reported to hospital showing ‘signs and symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic chemicals’.
The atrocity, blamed on Syrian tyrant Bashar al-Assad’s forces, has sparked a global outcry with the US and its allies considering taking military action in response.
Volunteers give aid to children at a hospital following the chemical attack in Douma
While the WHO statement did not confirm outright that a chemical weapons attack had taken place, it said more than 70 people sheltering in basements have died with 43 of those deaths related to symptoms consistent with exposure to highly toxic chemicals.
‘We should all be outraged at these horrific reports and images from Douma’ where Saturday’s attack took place, said Peter Salama, the UN agency’s chief of emergency response.
‘WHO demands immediate unhindered access to the area to provide care to those affected, to assess the health impacts, and to deliver a comprehensive public health response,’ he added.
Citing information previously released by local health organizations, WHO said that ‘an estimated 500 patients presented to health facilities exhibiting signs and symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic chemicals’.
Up to 500 people were poisoned in the Syrian gas attack that killed 43 people including children, the World Health Organisation has revealed
‘There were signs of severe irritation of mucous membranes, respiratory failure and disruption to central nervous systems of those exposed,’ the statement added.
The United States, Britain and France have argued the incident bears all the hallmarks of a strike ordered by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Assad has been blamed for previous attacks by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and UN-backed war crimes investigators.
WHO has delivered medicine capable of treating certain types of chemical agents to clinics through a series of humanitarian convoys deployed across the country in recent years.
UN officials have also accused Assad’s troops of at times removing those treatments from humanitarian vehicles.