Harutyunyan family wonders why authorities
didn't stop the circulation of contaminated
water immediately after the breakdown.
The Armenian Prosecutors' office has launched
an investigation to learn why Yerevan's water
supply was contaminated by sewage last week, causing
outbreak of stomach ailments and sending some
residents to hospital.
The contaminated water caused an epidemic of
dysentery. Some 200 people were admitted to Nork's
Hospital for Infectious Diseases.
Doctors at Nork say the incident of illness has
tapered off, however they continue to get new
cases related to the water problem. Fifty four
of the original cases have been discharged.
"The condition of those who are still in
the hospital is stable. Medicine can easily cope
with dysentery and it is not a dangerous disease
if treatment is applied in time," says Eduard
Zardaryan, head of the resuscitation department
of the hospital.
Zardaryan says that the hospital has taken effective
measures to control and treat the outbreak of
dysentery. Some feared that the contamination
could lead to more serious ailments such as typhoid
and hepatitis. So far, however, no cases of those
diseases have been reported.
Public anger over the authorities' handling of
water problems has intensified, while the Government
appears powerless to stop the circulation of the
contaminated water into residents' apartments.
Water in the affected districts is heavily chlorinated
and each day officials are holding press conferences
to update progress on fixing the problem, but
so far it isn't clear whether the pipes have been
Officials at the Ministry of Health say the contamination
has been stopped.
"The source of infection of drinking water
has been found. Since last week the quality of
water meets sanitary standards," says Vano
Vardanyan, Vice Mayor of Yerevan.
Officials are still, however, urging residents
of the affected districts to boil water before
drinking and not to use water from their pipes
for washing or preparing food. Further, residents
wonder why their drinking water is now heavily
chlorinated if it is suitable to use.
Presidential spokesman Ashot Kocharyan told ArmeniaNow
that President Robert Kocharyan has instructed
prosecutors to conduct a detailed investigation
of the breakdown and, if necessary, bring criminal
proceedings against those responsible for it.
The Chairman of the State Water Committee Gagik
Martirosyan told journalists that those people
who suffered using contaminated water have the
right to request compensation from whatever source
proves to be responsible for the leak.
Kaits appeared in hospital Wednesday with
So far, authorities are not saying who is to
blame, saying only that a sewage drain was clogged
by rubbish and that recent heavy rains aggravated
the poor condition of deteriorated pipes.
Skeptical Yerevan residents are claiming that
the sewage line break was no accident at all,
but was deliberately caused by businessmen who
own bottled water and juice production companies.
"I wonder why authorities behave so indifferent
to the problem," says Ruzanna Harutyunyan,
who took her five year old daughter, Ani, to hospital
Wednesday with stomach problems. "Why didn't
they stop the circulation of sewage water immediately
to not make people suffer."
Agavni Soghoyan, the mother of another affected
child, six year old Kaitz, says she intends to
write letters to the President, to the Water Supply
and Sewage Company to demand explanations.
"I am very pleased with the doctor's attitude
in this hospital, and we got all necessary treatment.
But who should be responsible that we appear here,"
she says. "Now when the rest of the children
enjoy the school holiday my son is suffering and
got intravenous injections all the day long."
While doctors assure that boiled water contains
no danger for health, many residents of Yerevan
are suspicious of their water delivery system.
Meanwhile, sales of bottled waters have soared
and so has the price. According to one shopkeeper
a five-liter bottle of "Noy" that sold
for 500 drams (about 90 cents) before the contamination,
now sells for 800 drams (about $1.40).