The horrifying, heartbreaking pictures of Ajka, Hungary, look like a natural disaster, like Hurricane Katrina. But they're not. This flooding is the result of a deadly spill from an alumina plant whose reservoir burst open. Warning: dreadfully upsetting photos below.


According to AP, Hungary declared a state of emergency in three counties, after the toxic red sludge "engulfed several towns and burned people through their clothes." Four people are dead, six are missing, and at least 120 are injured. The AP story adds:

Several hundred tonnes of plaster were being poured into the Marcal River to bind the toxic sludge and prevent it from flowing on, the National Disaster Management Directorate said. So far, about one million cubic metres of sludge has leaked from the reservoir, affecting an estimated 40 square kilometres, Environmental Affairs State Secretary Zoltan Illes told the state news wire MTI.

Illes called the flood an "ecological catastrophe" and said the sludge could reach the Raba and Danube rivers. He suspended activity at the plant and ordered the company to repair the damaged reservoir.

Photos by AP/Bela Szandelszky. Thanks to Klebert L. Hall for the heads up.


Top: A soldier in hazmat gear prepares to help clean up the contaminated street

A woman cries as she looks at her flooded home.

An aerial view of the red mud covered streets and neighborhood of Kolontar, 167 kms southwest of Budapest, Hungary, taken on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2010

A dead fish, coated with the toxic sludge, on a car windshield

A dead animal coated with the toxic sludge